Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson’s “nuts” comment is old news now, except something so outrageous and foolish is not easily passed over. Obviously, Jackson is unhappy with Obama. Perhaps the reason is personal jealousy; perhaps it is political style. Jackson claims the “nuts” comment was because Obama comes off “speaking down to black people.”

More likely it is more personal than that. Jackson broke new political ground in his presidential campaigns twenty years ago. Undoubtedly, he feels slighted that Obama does not defer to his advice.

Obama’s quick acceptance of Jackson’s apology probably stems from the relief that he now has an excuse to avoid appointing a needling and gaffe-prone Jackson to a future Obama administration. Obama has the added benefit of finally shaking the Jeremiah Wright millstone. Obama has carried the burden of a supportive controversial African-American preacher in his quest for skeptical white voters. Now he has another controversial African-American preacher dissing him. Jeremiah Wright is finally old news.

With Jackson, one has to wonder where his political instincts are.

The power and prestige of the Presidency must not be underestimated. Obama has the chance to do as much or more for African-Americans and all minorities than Martin Luther King.

Yet are Jackson’s comments symptomatic to where we are in the modern democracy? If Jackson’s believes that Obama should be politically castrated because he is ignoring black people, then Jackson fails to hold anything beyond a politically narrow agenda.  He is not alone. There are others sharing similar single-track minds on the death penalty, abortion, gun rights, gay rights or other issues.

However, the Presidency is broader than that. The President is not the President for a single constituency or a handful. It is about coalition building and making the best decisions for 300 million people, not 30 million or 60 million. Jackson does not seem to realize this, and that is why his candidacies failed years ago. He could not broaden his base. He could not understand the Presidency is more than what one person believes.

Obama says he is a candidate of change. Time will tell. Obama appears to be a candidate different from the old politics of divisiveness that Jackson promotes. American politics can only benefit if that promise holds true.

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