The Jackson Five…Years
So Jesse Jackson Jr. may do up to five years for purloining $750,000 in campaign funds for personal items ranging from a $45,000 Rolex to furs to celebrity collectibles—while his wife Sandi pleads guilty to income tax evasion. Thus ends the sad saga of one of the most promising political careers of this century—and a bitter personal disappointment for people such as myself who were friends and supporters.
Before deducing his likely successor, I must note what I see as the personal, perhaps mental, deterioration of a young man who had both the benefit and burden of bearing the name of the nation’s once most renowned civil rights leader. Elected in 1995, I don’t know when he started cheating or began his breakdown, but back in 2004 this once very healthy and fit young man, who had a home gym the East Bank Club would envy, blew up to more than 300 pounds and required gastric bypass surgery to normalize his weight.
The rapid weight gain clearly had psychological roots, which may have been compounded by the surgery. I suspect that he may have been gaming those funds as early as 2004 and having serious guilt pangs about it, though the time period covered by his plea deal was roughly 2007-2011.
I have no doubt that with every little theft or tax dodge he experienced greater and greater guilt plus increasing fear of being caught. This led to his hospitalization and treatment for bipolar disorder, his non-campaign for re-election and finally being snared. I’m not given to psychohistory, but this chain of events cries out for a psychological explanation.
However, I’m a political analyst, not a psychoanalyst, so I’ll just leave it there and report that the race to succeed him—which has some loony goings-on of its own—unexpectedly turned into a referendum on the National Rifle Association. Everyone thought it might be about a third airport or infrastructure or even jobs.
The 16 Democrats in the Feb. 26 primary—tantamount to election—boiled down to former State Rep. Robin Kelly, State Sen. Toi Hutchinson and former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, the only white in this predominantly black district.
With the nation focusing on guns, it came out that Halvorson is an unabashed NRA supporter; Hutchinson was formerly one of their stars but now disavows them, while Kelly has a strong antigun, anti-NRA record. This brought her the money and support of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s anti-NRA Super-PAC, which first ran ads attacking Halvorson, then both her and Hutchinson while endorsing Kelly. He is pumping nearly two million bucks into the race. Meanwhile the liberal website Daily Kos also endorsed her, bringing in fistfuls of small contributions.
All this finally drove Hutchinson out of the race.
Kelly has Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush’s endorsements plus the Chicago Tribune’s—and now Hutchinson’s. She sits atop a poll (sponsor unknown), 26-22 percent over Halvorson. Hutchinson had 20 percent, most of which will go to Kelly.
A Kelly win will be a nice rebuke to the NRA. Hope she stays honest.