Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ugliest Thing to Say

Since we can't ignore the firestorm surrounding the remarks of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, although I would sure like to, let's get this out of the way bright and early:
Mr. Jackson’s words, which included a vulgar reference, were recorded by a live microphone on Sunday. His apology came after Fox News said it would broadcast the remarks on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Wednesday night.

“I don’t want harm nor hurt to come to this campaign,” Mr. Jackson said in an afternoon news conference in Chicago, after his comments were referred to throughout the day on cable television. He called his words “hurtful and wrong.”

Mr. Jackson, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, has been a supporter of Mr. Obama. He has played no formal role in the campaign, but tensions have occasionally flared behind the scenes with Mr. Jackson, who is known for his outspokenness and his penchant for drawing attention to himself.

Mr. Obama’s candidacy has served as an example of a generational and stylistic shift in black political leadership in America. The remarks drew an unusually stern rebuke from Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., Democrat of Illinois, who also serves as a national co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.

“Reverend Jackson is my dad, and I’ll always love him,” the congressman said Wednesday evening in a statement. He added, “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

Jackson said "wanna cut his nuts off" because of his impression that Barack Obama has been talking down to black men.

Now, there's absolutely no place in our dialogue for that kind of thing. Jesse Jackson has effectively ended his relevance as an advocate and as a commentator--it's over, it's done. I don't want to hear from him anymore. I believe he should retire gracefully and not make any appearances for the rest of the year. It's a sad way to end a career in public life, but Jackson should simply admit that his mouth ended his career, not anything anyone has done to him.

The remarks themselves are more grudge than intention. Jackson has seen his influence diminish and his ability to stand in the spotlight reduced significantly because of his mouth and his ethical troubles. The sad thing is, the only reason he was on Fox News in the first place is because he doesn't have the appeal and the moral authority that he once had. He has been supplanted by many other talented and capable leaders, Obama being one of them but not the only one.

And one more thing--the Jackson incident is a damned good wake up call for anyone who appears on Fox News--don't do it. They recorded Jackson when he thought he was off the air and they gave that tape to Bill O'Reilly to maximize the damage and to amplify the shock. Fox News is a nasty, unprofessional operation that has nothing to do with the gathering of news and it does not operate in the public's interest. It is the partisan mouthpiece for the Republican Party, and no Democrat should legitimize it by appearing on their network.

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