So, has Jesse Jackson just, you know, lost his mind? One might think so after seeing his Sunday television appearance. For those that didn't, Jackson stated that President Obama needed to spend more time with black community leaders.
Rev. Jesse Jackson said that he and other African-American leaders “want to engage more fully with [Obama] because there is a lot of unfinished business.” While Jackson noted that the president has met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and with some African-American mayors, Jackson said he has yet to sit down with Obama.
Jackson said on CNN’s "State of the Union" that he was confident, however, “at some point in time, we will meet.”
This would be just a few days after the first black president gave speech to the NAACP that was, by turns, fiery, spiritual and inspiring. As Jackson himself noted, Obama has met with both the CBC and black mayors. Why on earth would he make plans to carve out time for more meetings with other self-styled black "leaders"? Why would he seek out Jesse Jackson in particular? Does Jesse think he still merits a prominent seat at the "political table"? Last year, he declared that Obama "talks down to blacks" -- right before he shared his wish to, ahem, physically emasculate Obama.
Now, admittedly, it's been a difficult time for the one-time foremost civil rights leader in the country.
Indeed, most of the last decade has been fairly miserable. He's been, arguably, eclipsed as the go-to civil rights leader/African-American gadfly by Al Sharpton (who even ran for president trying to emulate him). For all of Jackson's attempts to horn in on the Michael Jackson funeral, Sharpton ended up delivering the eulogy (historically flawed though it might have been). Jesse ended up being relegated to taping public service announcements urging MJ fans not to commit suicide. Sharpton has even managed to meet with Obama -- in a group with Michael Bloomberg and Newt Gingrich discussing education (Obama referenced the meeting in his NAACP speech).
Of course, the 00's began with his embarrassing admission that he had fathered a child out of wedlock with a former Rainbow-PUSH staffer. That essentially kept him out of the public eye for months afterward -- as well it should have.
The bad news extended to his son as well. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s plans to run for statewide office in Illinois fell apart when he was implicated in the Rod Blagojevich sell-a-Senate-seat scandal. Nope, definitely not the best of times for Rev. Jackson. But does he think he can relight his political relevance by making statements like this? If Obama himself wasn't smart enough to know how to balance his meetings with quote-black-leaders-unquote and everybody else, you'd better believe that advisers like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod (and Valerie Jarrett too, for that matter) do. Enacting an explicitly "black" agenda is a sure-fire way to become a one-term president.
Obama was elected on the same premise -- and promise -- that all presidents are: To be president of all the people. One of the biggest obstacles Obama had to overcome with white voters was not old stereotypes based on intelligence or hard work, but rather a concern that he might "favor" African Americans in his policies. Listening to Jackson would relight all those same fears.
This is so obvious that one wonders how someone who's been in the public light for so lo long -- as Jesse Jackson has -- could give such horrible "advice." Unless, of course, Jackson's jealousy truly knows no bounds. Is it possible that he really could want the first black president to fail? Does Jesse Jackson, subconsciously or otherwise, want to march into Rush Limbaugh territory? Stranger things have occurred.