The problem with Van Jones’ resignation isn’t that it’s a major loss to the Obama administration. Jones wasn’t a particularly important player in the big scheme of things, and he’s by no means irreplaceable.
No, the real problem is that it gives these sentiments legitimacy.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) called on Jones to resign Friday, saying in a statement, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate."
Senator Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) urged Congress to investigate Jones’s "fitness" for the position, writing in an open letter, "Can the American people trust a senior White House official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" On Saturday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote on his Twitter account, "Van Jones has to go."
Now this is a party whose elected officials regularly peddle completely unhinged conspiracies and have introduced legislation implying the President of the United States isn’t an American citizen. It’s a party whose members have made a habit of accusing the President of being a fascist akin to Adolf Hitler. It’s a party whose leaders have endorsed outright treason and whose last candidate for Vice President was married to a secessionist. It’s a party whose activists and media figures engage in the vilest political hate speech on a daily basis.
And these are the people who get to determine what constitutes appropriate speech and acceptable views in the political arena?
With Jones’ resignation, apparently so.
The White House should’ve brushed this off. Gibbs should’ve said something like, "When Jim DeMint, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Bill Posey and Paul Broun step down for their extremist views and coarse rhetoric, we’ll gladly ask Van Jones to step down as well. Until then, that’s the last question I’ll take on Mr. Jones."
By sacrificing Jones, the Obama administration is essentially agreeing with Mike Pence. And that’s unfortunate, for a lot of reasons.