The journalistic establishment is treating this story as if Gandhi got caught at a pool party at Jimmy Caan’s house bellying up to the hooker and cocaine bar. It’s almost like he’s the Chrysler or Long Term Capital Management of American liberalism, he’s just “too big to fail.” CNN, which never should have given America’s foremost partisan activist a show in the first place, has announced that they will abide by Jesse’s wishes to lay low for a while. But, a CNN spokesman told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “his show will be waiting for him when he returns.” The inestimable FOX News has declared that in “the spirit of humanity” they will soft peddle the story.
What the hell is going on?
Oh, I know, the liberals think we conservatives will play our assigned role and pound on our high chairs about Jackson’s infidelity, his profound hypocrisy, his obvious self-interest in defending Bill Clinton (Indeed, Salon seems to think this is all our fault).
And, oh, it is so tempting. Jackson is a preacher who’s never had a parish, who likes to claim the religious mantle when it suits him (back when he was more legitimately a man of God he was assertively pro-life, by the way). The consensus, from Al Sharpton to the indispensable Brit Hume, seems to be that this is a story because Jackson is a preacher. “Will Jesse Jackson get the same treatment that Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker got when they were exposed? Will the media . . . shame him off the public stage?” asked Sean Hannity.
But the fact is that my fellow conservatives, like Hannity and NRO’s Ann Coulter, who hold Jackson to the same standard as infamous evangelists miss an important point. Jackson is not a legitimate religious leader and has not been one for a long time. Swaggert’s hypocrisy stemmed from the fact that he talked a big game about individual morality and living a true Christian life while at the same time draining rolls of quarters into the Vibro Bed at Motel 6 with a hooker. Jesse Jackson is not about individual morality (spare me objections about his “I am somebody!” call-and-responses).
Oh sure, Jackson can be a profound and self-righteous moralist, he even likes to quote the Bible — remember when he said at the 1992 Democratic Convention that the baby-slaughtering King Herod was the Dan Quayle of the Old Testament? Or maybe you recall just last summer when he called George W. Bush Pontius Pilate? But Jackson’s moralism is at best motivated by politics and at worst motivated by financial self-interest. In his worldview only corporate ATM machines and Republicans can defy the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Moreover Jackson is a demagogue. Not as bad as Al Sharpton — or as dumb — but a demagogue nonetheless. He invokes morality and religion to demonize his opponents. He’s just as much of a demonizer as the “worst” Bible-thumping Christian conservative. He calls people Nazis and invokes Selma and Birmingham and the Freedom Rides and the rest in order to squeeze a few more concessions, a couple more checks, a few more bookings on Nightline out of white politicians, “white” corporations, and awed-but-guilt-ridden liberal TV producers. I wouldn’t be surprised if he said “this is Selma all over again” when the dry cleaner loses his shirts (as if the people’s preacher goes to the dry cleaners himself).
So for me, I really could care less about him adding one more child to the illegitimacy rate he is such an unreliable critic of. I never thought highly of the guy in the first place. It’s certainly not hypocritical of him to play the proverbial president and the intern with a staffer, because he supported the real president and the intern. Sure, he’s said some moralistic things for example, “There was a time when there was a sense of shame attached to sin as it were,” he said on his CNN pulpit, Both Sides, “I mean, young men or the young woman impregnated, there was a sense of I’ve got to get married . . . At least there was a sense of shame. There seems to be no barriers now on, there’s no moral deterrent to just vulgar behavior.” But such things smack of political opportunism to me. Certainly Jesse Jackson isn’t providing a “moral deterrent” against such “vulgar behavior.” The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, U.S. News, and others reported about Jackson’s allegedly “open marriage” back in 1987.
But just because the preacher angle is irrelevant, that doesn’t mean the sex stuff is irrelevant too. We may not need to take Jackson seriously as a man of God, but we should certainly take him seriously as a man of politics. Jackson consistently signs up with feminists who decry sexual harassment in the workplace. He constantly uses people’s personal arrangements to draw sweeping conclusions about their approaches to policy. Just a week or so ago, Jesse Jackson suggested that Linda Chavez was unqualified because the refugee she took into her home was an “indentured servant”
When Anita Hill came forward to accuse Clarence Thomas of asking a colleague out on a date and of making a joke about a pubic hair, Jesse Jackson was arm-in-arm with the feminists. He compared Hill to Jesus. “Rosa Parks and Anita Hill will go down as America’s moral authority,’’ he said at the time. ‘’A whole definition of how to treat women in the workplace will come out of the moral authority of one black woman.” Of course, he wasn’t alone, the New York Times said Hill had the “the moral courage of Eleanor Roosevelt” and Time put her alongside Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks.
No, this mistress isn’t alleging harassment, she seems to have nothing but nice things to say about him. She even wrote the aptly titled Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson and International Affairs. But Ms. Chavez’s boarder had nice things to say about her, and Jackson all but called her a serf. If anyone can, with a straight face, tell me that Jesse Jackson wouldn’t twist the knife in a Gary Bauer-type under similar circumstances in order to score political points, remind me not to play poker with them.
And then of course there is the money. As Jesse said in his seminal tome It’s About the Money!, it’s about the money. Jackson, according to various sources, used tax-exempt Rainbow Coalition and/or Operation PUSH money to take care of this woman. He paid her for $40 grand in “moving expenses” and $10,000 a month to keep her in a fat L.A. pad.
I don’t want to get highly legalistic here, but isn’t that — you know — embezzlement or fraud or something like that? If for no other reason, the press is being cowardly in not following the money — which is supposed to define gutsy journalism, right? For more than a decade Jesse Jackson has been America’s most revered shakedown artists. He duns “white” corporations for huge sums of cash which never go accounted for. If he doesn’t get his blood money, he shouts “Selma” and “racism” and whatnot and the New York Times et. al. give him all the press he needs because the Time’s needs Jackson the way Jackson needs the Times. Well, we know where at least some of the money is going, but nobody seems particularly interested.
The reason they are giving Jackson the benefit of the doubt is they agree with him politically and they admire him. That could not be more obvious, but it would have to scroll across the screen in subtitles while the news anchors talked. The simple fact is that Jesse Jackson is too big to fail.