There are several rather astounding things about the current campaign of Glenn Beck against various Administration appointees. Most astounding, however, has been the Obama Administration reaction to date: quick capitulation in the face of relatively small pressure. Indeed, one of the reasons there was so little initial defense of Van Jones in progressive circles was because most of us were unaware of the attack until the Van Jone’s “resignation.” As compared to previous campaigns in the Clinton years or Bush years to oust various officials, pressure to fire Van Jones had not even approached noticeable, let alone “scary.” Indeed, I am sufficiently cynical wrt the DLC/Rahm Emmanuel faction of the Ds that I cannot help but wonder if the Beck-led anti-Jones campaign was merely a convenient excuse for pushing out a smart and effective progressive.
But whatever the reason, the Van Jones firing proved a major strategic blunder. It infuriated the Netroots and younger civil rights constituencies, who felt betrayed, and it emboldened Beck and his following to seek new “kills.” It also demonstrated the truth of Feld’s Rule of Political Power: “Your political power is directly related to your perceived ability to cause pain.” Within a week, Beck was claiming another kill in the form of Yosi Seargant at National Endowment for the Arts, prompting talk of an unstoppable McCarthy-esque crusade (or campaign of freedom, depending on your political perspective).
Among the latest targets of Beck and his followers is Mark Lloyd. I’ve known Mark for some years and consider him friend, so I am hardly the most impartial of defenders here. Besides, my Public Knowledge colleague Art Brodsky and others have written strong personal defenses of Mark and debunked the charges against him as well or better than I could. Nor is my purpose here merely to fulfill my Biblical obligation not to suffer “a tale bearer among thy people, nor stand by the blood of thy neighbor” (Lev. 19:16) by re-iterating the defense of Mark Lloyd.
Rather, I note this is a splendid opportunity for Genachowski to save Obama’s tuchus by showing that you do much better standing up for your own people than caving (one of the few lessons Obama could stand to learn from Bush). Whether the Van Jones “resignation” came from heartless political infighting from the DLC faction, brainless failure to consider the natural consequences, or simply lack of political courage, Genachowski has the opportunity to give the Administration a heart and a brain and — what it appears to need most these days — courage. Because, as the far too lengthy an wonky analysis below shows, this ain’t the 1990s anymore, and the best overall political strategy is to take a page from the Bush Administration and stand firmly with the base by telling these guys to bugger off.
More below . . . .