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Van Jones is right. 'We're a little spoiled'

For a variety of reasons, no one would confuse former White House green jobs adviser Van Jones for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. When her selection was announced, there was story after story about how her personal views weren’t known on a host of subjects. How she held her cards so close to the vest. How her long-term plan to get to Washington, preferably as a Supreme Court justice, made her coldly calculating and strategic.

The same cannot be said of Jones. His story arc never had Washington on its horizon, and, as a progressive community organizer, he acted accordingly. Dana Milbank nicely summarizes the careless things Jones did that before he got to Washington that got him drummed out of the White House. But, as Milbank points out, Jones came away from the experience battered, but wiser.

Rather than slink away from Washington after being fried by the hyper-partisan politics it generates, Jones is still here applying the lessons he learned during his six-months as a presidential appointee. That’s what he was doing when Milbank saw him at a Campus Progress conference on Wednesday. Jones might have been talking to students, but his words should be heeded by the growing cadre of folks ticked off because change isn’t coming quickly enough.

"Honestly, we're a little spoiled," he said, likening "Generation Obama" to those who aspire to look like a fitness-magazine model ("That's called hope") but haven't lost those extra 15 pounds ("That's called change").

The former revolutionary appealed to the students to accept incremental progress, telling them to resist "the despair people want to pull you back to because we didn't get everything done in 18 months."

A little spoiled? Ah, music to my ears. It’s about time someone from inside the progressive tent said it. And who better to say it than Jones? Advocates for gay rights, the environment and immigration are right to be impatient with the pace of change. But some are so within their silos of self-interest that they are blind to how what they want impacts other priorities demanding equal attention. Some frankly don’t care. I totally get that. Where discrimination is concerned, it’s difficult to tell those pushing for equality to wait until conditions are more favorable for success or to even accept a portion of what they’re asking for as a down payment. But as the singers of “Double Exposure” have long counseled, “Ten percent of something/It beats one hundred percent/Of nothing at all.”

By Jonathan Capehart  | July 8, 2010; 8:04 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Watching Capehart on the Scarborough morning show, my silly subjective gut reaction to him always led me to the word 'sycophant.' At other times, my silly subjective gut reaction led me to the word 'gutless.' Still other times, I wondered if he offered anything other than the ability to paraphrase the analysis of others at which time the word 'poser' popped to mind. I'm sorry to report that with this cowardly little commentary above, my silly subjective gut reactions were apropos.

Posted by: Patrickometry | July 10, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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