Talking about Van Jones
The resignation of President Obama’s green jobs adviser was touched on during several of the TV networks’ Sunday morning political gabfests. Here are the relevant excerpts:
NBC’s “Meet the Press“
HOST DAVID GREGORY: Another domestic matter — Van Jones, who has been an advisor to the White House on environmental policy, resigned overnight because of some inflammatory comments he has made, over time, including a petition he signed that blamed the government for the 9/11 attacks. Was this an issue that got to the president? Did he personally order that he be fired?
OBAMA ADVISER DAVID AXELROD: Absolutely not. This was Van Jones’s own decision. You know, he is internationally known as an advocate for green jobs, and that’s the basis on which he was hired. He said in his statement that he didn’t want his comments to become a distraction from the issue, which is so important to the future of our economy and communities around the country. And I commend him for making that decision.
MR. GREGORY: Was he the victim of a smear campaign, as he alleges?
MR. AXELROD: Well, look, this is a — you know, the political environment is rough, and so, you know, these things get magnified.
But the bottom line is that he showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue, and I think that took a great deal of commitment on his part.
MR. GREGORY: But was the president offended by what he said?
MR. AXELROD: I haven’t spoken to the president about this. As you know, this thing has bubbled up in the last few days and, frankly, my conversation with the president has mostly been about health care, which is where our focus should be right now.
MR. GREGORY: Do you find what he said objectionable?
MR. AXELROD: Well, I haven’t read all of his comments, either, David. Again, I’m focused on how well we get health security for our all Americans; how we get this economy moving in the right direction. We’ve pulled back from the abyss of a potential collapse, and now we have to build for the future and get people back to work. I think those are the things that we should be focused on, and that’s what I am focused on.
HOWARD DEAN: Well, I was just going to say this guy’s Yale-educated lawyer. He’s a best-selling author about his specialty. I think he was brought down. I think it’s too bad.
Washington’s a tough place that way, and I think it’s a loss for the country.
HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Governor, how about the fact that he had made a series of statements and had signed this petition in 2004 indicating — suggesting that the government might have some role or some complicity in 9/11?
DR. DEAN: Well, he was told by the people waving those clipboards around that he was signing something else, so I think that’s too bad.
Look, all of us campaigning for office have had people throw clipboards in front of our face and ask us to sign, and he learned the hard way you ought not to do that.
But I don’t think he really thinks the government had anything to do with causing 9/11.
MR. WALLACE: Senator Alexander, your reaction to the Jones resignation?
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: Well, I don’t think he’s the issue. I think the czars are the issue. We have about two dozen so-called czars — the pay czar, the car czar, all these czars in the White House.
And that really is an affront to the Constitution, because the Constitution was set up to say that the president is the executive, but the people who manage the government the secretaries, the Cabinet members, of which I was one, have to be approved by the Congress and have to report to the Congress.
So when you take all these people and make policy close to the president and the White House to people who don’t go to the Congress and aren’t approved by the Congress, you’re just adding fuel to the fire by those who think Washington is taking over everything.
HOST GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the president believe that he is the victim of a smear campaign or does the president think that Jones actions and words merit resignation?
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: Well what Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual. The president thanks Van Jones for his service in the first eight months helping to coordinate renewable energy jobs and lay the foundation for our future economic problem…The president accepted his resignation, but Van Jones as he said in his statement he was going to get in the way of the President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So the president doesn’t endorse in any way the things that Van Jones said before but the president doesnt want him to go?
GIBBS: He doesn’t but he thanks him for his service.