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Hope’s Alive. Somewhere.

Nov
30
2004

When, oh when, did Rev. Jesse Jackson become a joke?
Jackson’s always had a reputation as a show-boater. A guy who didn’t do much work, took a lot of credit and was a little sloppy with the books. PUSH, his Chicago-based civil rights organization, has always been a little suspect. But Jackson could talk – his “Keep Hope Alive” speech to the Democratic Party is one of the better moments of political TV you’re ever likely to see – and he could get folks going. PUSH got a bad wrap because Jackson insisted on sticking to out-of-date protest rituals – the boycott, the picket, the insistence on discrimination – and made no bones about the fact that corporations had to negotiate and sometimes pay PUSH, not their workers – to get out from under the allegations of racism that he brought to bear on their reputations. When he came to Silicon Valley, he got laughed out of town. Slowly, Jackson lost his audience.


The last turning point came when Jackson showed up – much to the glee of anyone who knew anything about anyone in politics – called into “counsel” the Clinton family during the fall-out from Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The insider snickering went happily public when the Rev., to no one’s surprise, turns up in a paternity battle with a former campaign worker.
So there, last night on the TV is the Rev. Jesse Jackson, proud but portly, talking about voter fraud in Ohio. Yup. Jesse’s come to Ohio – where the state board of elections is run by a black Republican – to talk about how black folks couldn’t vote.
Keith Olbermann, who’s been indulging both sides on this issue on his nightly show, MSNBC’s CountDown, makes the point that Jackson’s appearance in Ohio has shaken loose some Ohio Republicans, namely Elections Commission Kenneth Blackwell, to chat with him. But Blackwell then went on to tell Olbermann that many of the counties under such intense scrutiny are counties where the guy running the Democratic Party and the elections commissioner are the same person. And they still couldn’t deliver.
Now, Olbermann is taking the 50,000-foot-view of this stuff and his entire premise is a good one. He’s talking about voting irregularities because not talking about them only fuels senseless and stupid rumors and wacky comparisons like the one Mark Blumenthal, the Democrat who writes over at MysteryPollster heroically gets up and knocks down every day. And besides, as the good-government folks say, “Sunshine really is the best disinfectant.” But voter fraud – as Jackson and anyone even passingly familiar with the civil rights movement knows – isn’t new. What’s new here, what’s new this year, is attention to fraud and voting irregularities.
Still, Jesse Jackson’s calling foul – and again, trying to employ his influence as black Democrats — is just plain silly. This election wasn’t stolen. It was lost.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:13 AM | Permalink

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