John McWhorter has a pretty strange defense of Van Jones on his blog. He makes two main points. First:
Jones was wrong, actually, in disavowing his support for 9/11 conspiracy theory. He signed the document, which can only mean that he supports the idea that 9/11 was planned, or that the Bushies knew something more than they have said, or at least that the charge is plausible enough to require investigation.
But support for that idea is hardly unknown among people of the left – and often gestural in its own way; look one of these types in the eye and ask “Do you really think George Bush and his cabinet engineered the murder of thousands and have kept the secret for eight years?” and watch the nervous pause and the look off into the distance. Speculations in this vein hardly meant that Jones was not sincerely committed to working within the government to do good.
No, this idea isn't unusual on the left. But it is unusual within the Democratic Party. There are paranoid cranks on both the far right and the far left. The difference is that the former tend to work within the two party system, and the latter don't -- they tend to view both parties as equally corrupt. Even the relatively mainstream venues of the left, like the Nation, have a foot or a foot and a half in the "Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum" analysis of American politics. Just because the GOP has largely embraced or tolerated the Birthers, it's no reason for Democrats to embrace or tolerate the Truthers, or even people who think Trutherism is reasonable.
Second, McWhorter argues:
Not too far back, I argued that going crazy and having earnest national “discussions” every time some hooligan hangs a noose somewhere only encourages the perpetrators, as making a stir and offending people is just what they want. Silence would be a more potent weapon in such cases than many consider.
In that vein, Glenn Beck should not be able to affect White House staffing decisions.
No, Glenn beck per se should not have any power. But if Obama were to appoint Charles Manson, Beck would go (more) nuts. Is that a good reason to keep Manson?