Saturday, April 27, 2024

Flashback 2008: Fading into oblivion, Jackson not interested in being an elder statesman

Still Life of Fruit and Nuts, by Giuseppe Ruoppolo (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Rev. Jesse Jackson was in the news this week, as his putative replacement took a powder. I was tempted to pile on, but Jackson, to me, is something of a pitiable figure by this point. I've had my say over the years. One moment that stayed with me is when he showed up at the editorial board to make his case for getting the credit for Barack Obama.


     "Nuts," like "balls," is one of those words whose acceptability shifts dramatically depending on the context — perfectly fine when referring to dense, oily fruits (yes, nuts are actually fruit) such as almonds or pecans, but much squishier, so to speak, when used as the vulgar slang for testicles, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson did, into an open microphone on Fox News.
     "I want to cut his nuts out," the minister said, referring to Barack Obama.


     In a rare switch, the usually edgy Sun-Times dashed the word in its Thursday edition, 
"n - - -" as if it were an obscenity, while the more staid Tribune unblinkingly ran the cheery little term, and on its front page, no less.
     Such confusion is natural, since threatening castration blazes new territory in political discourse — I was intrigued by the use of the adverb "out," which seems more suited to talking about removing an embedded object, such as a heart. "Off" seems to be preferable when discussing something so pendulous.
    This kerfuffle was probably inevitable. It seemed odd and out-of-character when Jackson made the rounds a few weeks back, head bowed, quietly lobbying for recognition of his role in the historic ascension of Obama. An ego as massive as Jackson's could not remain in a humble supporting role for long.
     Of course he'd slip and grab at the curtains. Dreams die hard and dreams of power die even harder. The old guard seldom quietly departs, and it was too much to hope that Jackson could age gracefully into an elder statesman for the black community. Rather, he seems set on becoming the crazy uncle in the attic, the guy you can't introduce to your friends, because he has evil thoughts and a dirty mouth.
     The other noteworthy thing about Jackson's humiliating gaffe came about because Fox was the only news outlet in possession of the tape of his crude remarks, and held onto it to hype Bill O'Reilly's blabfest in the evening.
     This led to the unusual situation of the apology preceding the insult, as Jackson, savvy enough to know what was coming, leapt to say he was sorry even before the offensive words became public.
     This breaks his previous apology record, where news of his out-of-wedlock child was followed almost immediately by his plea for forgiveness and an announcement that he had gone into seclusion for several minutes of soul-searching and was now ready to resume his place as guardian of the nation's conscience.
     Perhaps this will be the start of a trend, as politicians gaze into the future, imagine what slurs they will utter or excesses they will commit, and apologize for them ahead of time.
    —Originally published in the Sun-Times, July 11, 2008


  1. Jesse and Bernie were both born in 1941. Bernie is exactly a month older.
    But they're like night and day. (Um...wait...maybe I need to rephrase that...)

    1. Sorry Grizz, but both are exactly alike. Jesse hates Jews & Bernie is a self-hating Jew, that supports Hamas & the insane violent Gazans!

    2. A Jewish guy from Canada once called me out on my views on Israel, which you wouldn't like, and he also accused me of being a "slef-hating Jew." I replied: "Guilty as charged...and I don't care much for the Slefs, either."

      I'm not a Bernie Bro...they helped the Orange Guy beat Hillary...but I don't exactly hate him. If he seriously bleived that a Brooklyn Jew had a prayer of being elected POTUS by the rest of the country, he was delusional.

      As for're right on the money. I still haven't forgotten about 1984. His anti-Semitic snarks about "Hymies" and "Hymietown" really pissed me off. When I grew up in Skokie, the parents of one of my best friends were Florence and Hymie.

  2. Slightly off-topic, I know, but regarding the "more staid" Tribune's delicate sensibilities: it gave me a giggle last Thursday when they printed a story about an unusually wordy Chase Bank robber whose stickup note was an entire essay, including his views on the governor and elaborate threats on what his "outside contacts" will do to the bank teller if he's caught (which he was), finally ending his seven-line paragraph with "Now start giving me dat shit!"

    The Tribune very delicately printed the last word as "sh—!" (which their website audio playback spelled out quickly as "EssAitch!"), but accompanied the article with a large and fully-legible photo of the stickup note in which the offending word was visible in all its glory. One wonders who they thought they were protecting.

  3. Reminds me of the story about one of the Romanov families (probably the last one), who employed a nanny to groom the kids in French literature and fashion. One of the kids came to their mother and asked, "What does 'merde' mean?" Needless to say, the nanny was shown "la porte" immediately.

  4. N.S., your description of Jesse as a "pitiable figure" is the most accurate portrayal I've read about him. Many years ago he was holding a benefit at the Brooks Brothers store in the Rookery Building. When I spoke to him, he was very charismatic, but he was also egotistical, almost narcissistic. He has done many good things in his life, but it seems that he still craves attention and resents riding on the coattails of MLK and Obama. I left that day, feeling much as you did.

  5. Whatever happened to that missing money from Operation PUSH? was he ever charged? and his dumb wife stayed with him though he's a cheater

  6. I lost respect for the man years ago. I didn't know much about his early years with MLK until later in life. I think absolute power corrupts absolutely. Greed. He and Sharpton never grew up the next generation of leaders. Al keeps showing up to causes, but while it might be a show of support, it seems like a last gasp for fame.


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