Van Jones is the perfect face for the climate change movement for loads of reasons. For starters he is/was a pioneer in connecting inner city america to the traditional climate movement, which primarily was a movement built on the foreboding science and the necessary retrenchment from fossil fuels that was necessary, irrespective of the inability of some of our population to adjust to that transition without significant help. When that's your message the coalition you tend to get are white, urban, middle-class to upper middle class americans.
This created a disconnect with the climate movement and progressive politics' strongest base in America: minorities generally, but African Americans in particular. Van Jones realized this while seeing both worlds in San Francisco and Oakland and helped connect the transition to clean energy to the inner city through his work there and his subsequent great book "The Green Collar Economy". You saw the fruits of his, and other peoples, labor yesterday when African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos were among the biggest voices and presence at the rally and for the movement. We came a long way. This gave him unmatched credibility with the traditional environmental movement and the traditional base of the democratic/progressive politics. But thats not what scares the right.
What makes Van Jones such a threat to the right is the fact that he is, by far, the best communicator in our movement. He has this insane ability to distill the ethos of what we're trying to do into simple yet very engaging and moving language. Normally you would think he has these things prepared ahead of time, which would be impressive but not special, but then you realize he's even better in Q&A sessions. I've seen Van talk so many times, both off the cuff and in speeches, that you immediately realize that he just has this innate ability to synthesize complicated arguments into coherent and powerful language. And most importantly, synthesize them in a way that completely captures young people. Its truly amazing to see him at a college campus.
So of course, at yesterday's rally, he had the line that captured just about everything about this fight in his message to Obama(paraphrasing):
"Mr. President, if you build this pipeline, the first thing it runs over is not our farmlands or our cities, the first it runs over is your credibility Mr.President"