It's so time-honored that it is now a cliche: The best time for an administration to release bad news is late on a Friday. The only better time would be after midnight Sunday morning on a three-day weekend. The Obama administration chose the latter in getting rid of the controversial Van Jones, its "green jobs" czar. While several Obama nominees had withdrawn their names over unpaid taxes and other issues, this is the first time someone already appointed has had to quit. It's never a good thing when an administration spills its first blood.
But Jones being let go is one more sign that the bloom is off the rose of Obama first term. A few weeks ago, before the administration began on taking water over health care, Jones might have held on -- even with the volatile "9/11 Truther" charges swirling around him.
Jones was arguably a victim of his own allies. He came into the cross hairs of Fox News' Glenn Beck when an organization that Jones once led, Color of Change, urged advertisers to boycott Beck's program. The drive has had, to say the least, mixed results: Several advertisers have dropped off, but Beck's ratings have increased.
That made it even more likely that Beck's scrutiny of Jones would reach more eyeballs. Once that media virus escapes, it becomes impossible to stop. With more people paying attention, it came out that Jones had used intemperate language to describe Republicans. OK, that was minor. Then it was revealed that he had signed a petition suggesting that the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks -- indeed, may actually have conspired to let them happen. That was way beyond the pale. It's as kooky as the assertions of the far right's "Birther" movement.
But why was Jones sent packing Saturday night/Sunday morning? Simple: As President Obama heads into what may be his most critical week -- trying to resuscitate his health-care reform initiative, he couldn't risk having to deal with questions about Jones. Distraction? To say the least.
Jones would likely have gone eventually, but the relative quickness -- and in the media cover of a holiday weekend -- had everything to do with saving the president's primary domestic policy initiative.