Rev. Jackson, the Fat Lady Is Singing
A "jealous rage," Fox's Geraldo Rivera called it.
Before taping a "Fox & Friends" segment, Rev. Jesse Jackson, with his microphone on, sat next to another man. Turning to him, Jackson, speaking softly, launched into an attack on Barack Obama. "Barack, he's talking down to black people on this faith-based …" said Jackson. "I want to cut (Obama's) nuts off."
Even before Fox aired the remarks, Jackson appeared on CNN and offered a pre-emptive apology. "I said something I felt regret for," said Jackson. "It was crude. It was very private and very much a sound bite — and a live mike. And so I feel — I find no comfort in it. I find no joy in it. So I immediately called the senator's campaign to send my statement of apology to repair the harm or hurt that this may have caused his campaign, because I support it unequivocally."
But why did he say it?
Yes, Jackson ran for the presidency in 1984, and even more credibly in 1988. Geraldo, as do others, suggest the green-eyed monster — envy. And what about a possible personal dislike of Obama? When the senator first announced his candidacy, Jackson withheld his endorsement. Jackson later criticized Obama because, in Jackson's opinion, Obama only mildly weighed in on the Jena Six "scandal." Jackson accused Obama of "acting like he's white." Still, Jackson's outburst seems too over-the-top, far too angry.
Did Obama incur Jackson's wrath because of the candidate's shifts and flip-flops on a number of issues — Iraq, Iran, FISA, NAFTA, the death penalty, abortion, the Second Amendment, the disposition of Jerusalem, the abandonment of his former pastor (Rev. Wright) and his church of 20 years, and public financing of election campaigns? Apparently not. Jackson made no reference to Obama's newfound positions.
What about differences of opinion between Jackson and Obama on policy and ideology? No, since both denounce the Bush administration, oppose the Iraq war, support universal health care, want taxes raised on the so-called rich, and seek a playing-field-leveling governmental role in education, job training and welfare.
What about Obama's condemnation of men who irresponsibly breed children and then abandon them? Obama, a few weeks earlier, before a predominantly black church audience in Chicago, said: "We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.
Now we're getting warm.
Recall that Jackson, while mentoring then-President Bill Clinton over his Monica Lewinsky problems, brought a co-worker to the White House — his mistress. Jackson even took a photo of the visibly pregnant woman and the president in the Oval Office. So Obama's comment, which describes the destructive and destabilizing phenomenon that black actor/comedian/activist Bill Cosby calls "unwed fathers," perhaps struck too close to home for Jackson.
But there's more.
Obama's success suggests that America edges closer and closer to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of evaluating people based on content of character rather than color of skin. Obama, on the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the civil rights march in Selma, Ala., said: "The previous generation, the Moses generation, pointed the way. They took us 90 percent of the way there. We still got that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side."
Even Jackson, in one of his "nuts" apologies, said of Obama: "He's running the last lap of a 54-year marathon. He is running that race. I am a part of that race."
So, again, why the ugly, demeaning remark?
Jackson, and his race-card-waving cohorts, derive stature, power, significance and self-enrichment by claiming that racism remains a serious problem in America. After complaining about the lack of minority beer distributorships, for example, Jackson's sons ended up with a lucrative Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Chicago. Author Kenneth Timmerman, in his book "Shakedown," describes the Jackson modus operandi — playing the race card for self-enrichment, as well as that of friends and family.
Rather than display pleasure at America's obvious progress, or pride in his role in getting us there, the anachronistic Jackson now morphs into a shrinking, petulant, self-pitying "leader" — with little left to lead.
Good news for America; bad news for Jackson.
Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card — and Lose," is available now. To find out more about Larry Elder, visit his Web page at www.LarryElder.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
CREATORS SYNDICATE COPYRIGHT 2008 LAURENCE A. ELDER