-By Warner Todd Huston
A Chicago Sun-Times columnist is saddened by the flame out of Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., the Chicago Congressman that just resigned after a Congressional investigation into misuse of campaign funds. His story is that of a Greek hero, she claims.
Columnist Laura Washington waxes poetic about Jackson, Jr.’s fall from grace likening him to legendary Greek character Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell from the skies. But she doesn’t cut him much slack, really.
Washington notes that Jackson, Jr. isn’t the first 2nd District Congressman who has been a disappointment to voters. In fact, he’s the third in a row that left office under a cloud. Jackson replaced Mel Reynolds who went to jail for sexual misconduct, child pornography and obstruction of justice and Reynolds replaced Gus Savage, a long-time Illinois pol who left office after the House investigated him for sexual misconduct.
Washington goes on to warn 2nd District voters that “racial politics” will be in play in the upcoming special election to replace Jackson. She also warns that “the clout class wants in,” pointing out that allies of the current Cook County Board President are mulling throwing their hats in the ring, not to mention that allies of current state Democrat powerman Michael Madigan are also eyeing the seat.
Saying, “The district is 69 percent black, which could allow a white candidate to prevail if a stampede of African Americans split the black vote,” Washington hopes that black candidates don’t crowd the ballot nullifying each other’s vote.
The long-time Sun-Times columnist ends on a dour note.
In the wake of Jackson’s resignation, The Chicago Reporter unearthed some sad statistics. In 2011, the 2nd District’s poverty rate was 22 percent. The area’s 20 percent unemployment rate tops the national rate, and is higher among African Americans, at 22 percent. On education, only 21 percent of the district residents have earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28.5 percent nationwide.
She finishes saying that we shouldn’t expect a congressman to “fix everything” but it would be nice to have a representative who “focuses on their needs, not his or her personal priorities.” It would be nice, indeed.
Naturally, one would search in vain for much criticism of Jackson by columnist Washington during much of his 9-term Congressional career. She has been critical of him in the last months, a period where it’s been nearly impossible to support him, but mostly she’s treated him in a hands-off manner.
And where is the criticism by Chicago’s African American community for a congressman who doesn’t even own a home in his own district and rarely made appearances there? Where is the criticism of his wife who is supposed to be a Chicago Alderman who also doesn’t live in her district. They’ve been nowhere to be found, of course.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been getting a free ride for decades.