In response to a torrent of criticism, originated and directed by Fox News’s Glenn Beck, White House adviser Van Jones has apologized for some of his past statements and distanced himself from a document he once signed.
“In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the administration – some of which were made years ago. If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize,” Van Jones said, in a document emailed out Thursday night by the White House. Jones does not identify the offensive statements in question. But yesterday, in another apology, he was more specific, telling Politico and others that he should not have called opponents of Presdient Obama’s legislation “assholes” during an event before he joined the White House.
But foul language is not Jones’ biggest problem. On Thursday, it was revealed that Jones signed onto a petition in 2004 that called for an “immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”
Jones now says that he did not sign on to the ideas described in what he signed. “As for the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever,” Jones said in the statement.
Jones’ job is to advise the White House Council on Environment Quality on green initiatives, but for his critics, it is, at least symbolically, much bigger. Beck, who has had as good an August run and Obama has had a bad one, makes a daily issue of the fact that Jones once identified as a communist, making him something sinister at the heart of the White House operation. To address these concerns, apparently, Van Jones adds one final line to his statement: “My work at the Council on Environmental Quality is entirely focused on one goal: building clean energy incentives which create 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and use renewable resources.” In other words, he does not spend his time organizing the proletariat to seize the means of production, or whatever.
But the fact is that Beck, who has faced a withering sponsor boycott after he called Obama a “racist,” now has a White House official backtracking. His brand of entertainment broadcasting–a sort of grab bag of candied popcorn populist outrage–has scored a hit. And there are no signs Beck will be easing back anytime soon. His new book, Arguing with Idiots, for which the broadcaster poses on the cover in what looks like a German or Russian World War II military uniform, hits store shelves September 22.