We laughed as Glenn Beck took to his whiteboard to outline an absolutely preposterous "theory" about how the Apollo Alliance, led by Van Jones, was organizing a revolutionary army to take over the United States in the name of communism (or something). We smirked as he claimed Americorps was going to become Obama's personal army (or something). We wondered how anyone could take this lunatic seriously. And then it turned out people took him seriously. Due to Beck's incomprehensible but persistent soap-boxing, Van Jones has lost his job as Special Adviser for Green Jobs--Jones resigned over the weekend to prevent his being a 'distraction' to the administration. Now, no doubt pleased with his success, Beck has released the names of the Obama Administration advisers he plans to smear next. Glenn Beck is an enigma to me. An idiotic, fear-mongering enigma. And I was stunned as anyone to discover that he had actual sway--like Dave Roberts, I wrote him off as a bizarre but relatively harmless Gomer Pyle-esque goon who happened to have his own TV show. I can't believe I'm writing this, but the time has come to take him seriously--certainly not his ideas, which are as void of merit as a Madoff investment plan, but his at-this-point indisputable influence.
Which is why there's cause for alarm when Beck Twittered to his followers the following: "FIND EVERYTHING YOU CAN ON CASS SUNSTEIN, MARK LLOYD AND CAROL BROWNER."
Cass Sunstein is a legal scholar who heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who is a legal animal rights proponent who once mentioned that hunting ought to be banned. You can only imagine where Beck will go with that one.
Mark Lloyd, the FCC Diversity Commissioner, will likely be taken on for a piece he authored called the Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio, which examined the fact that 91% of talk radio is conservative, 9% progressive, while only 43% of regular listeners identify as conservative. A study inquiring (and just inquiring) into one of the strongholds of conservative media? Lloyd must want to destroy free speech and America!
And finally, here's the one where we TreeHuggers should take note: Carol Browner is the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. She was the head of the EPA during the Clinton administration, and was the longest serving head of the EPA in history. She was instrumental in pushing for a national auto emissions standard, started the brownfields program, rallied for tough clean air regulations and has a positive history of expertly organizing environmental stewardship. So what will Beck have against her? Plenty. She became an enemy of plenty of industry folks with her clean air restrictions, and stricter environmental regulations. She had a public 'distaste' for the Bush administration, calling it "the worst environmental administration ever".
And then there's this (via Wikipedia)
In 1995, Browner and the EPA were charged by the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs with violating the federal Anti-Lobbying Act by faxing unsolicited material opposing the Republican-sponsored regulatory reform package to various corporations and public-interest groups.The EPA was never convicted, of course, but Beck just needs a whiff of impropriety to unleash his vitriol. This should probably suffice.
Now, as Lloyd wrote when news first broke of Van Jones' resignation, we have lost a good man to the madness that Beck instigates and an atmosphere in American politics that allows it. As Lloyd says, US politics can seem incomprehensible--note a man like Beck having any influence at all as proof--but it certainly can be said that Jones' history was a liability, given the current climate. He admittedly belonged to radical groups at one time, once spoke favorably of communism, and had little interest in holding his tongue to placate the political game (recall he had no qualms about calling intransigent Republicans 'assholes')--all of which are known to be impermissible sins in modern US politics, no matter how irrelevant each deed is to the way the man performs his job, or the fact that he's moved on from his 'radical beliefs'.
It really is too bad that a dedicated, intelligent, and accomplished man has fallen victim to a smear campaign begun by a confused loudmouth--my heart sunk more at this news than perhaps any other development in Obama's young presidency. So we've got to brace ourselves from the next incoming wave of Beck-led attacks, get informed, and prepare ourselves to counter the misinformation campaigns.
Let's not lose any more good green men or women.