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What's up with Jesse Jr.?

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 7/19/2012, 3:26 p.m.
What's up with Jesse Jr.?

An endless supply of scuttlebutt, mystery and conjecture abound when discussing the whereabouts and condition of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Those who know don't say, and those say apparently don't know.

For more than a month, the Chicago representative has been missing in action, and an assortment of rumors has him mired in depression, suffering from a mood disorder, overcome with physical and mental exhaustion or on the verge of suicide.

And seeking answers from his father hasn't helped the situation at all; in fact, it becomes more complicated and bewildering.

During an interview on NPR last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said his son has "been in touch with his mother and his wife," which can be interpreted that he hasn't been in touch with his father.

Several calls to informants in the Windy City have done little to unravel the problem. "The last person you want to talk to about his condition is his father," one friend told a reporter.

A recent story in the Chicago Sun-Times gives credence to this advice.

"Jesse Sr. casts a long shadow," Delmarie Cobb, who worked on the elder Jackson's presidential and the younger Jackson's congressional campaigns, told the Sun-Times. "When you're the namesake, you have to live up to that name. An unspoken pressure exists from the moment you realize what your name means--that you have to live up to that. In some cases, you want to be better."

On repeated occasions, Rep. Jackson has insisted to questioners, "I am not my father."

But it's hard to believe the many years of differences between father and son, including Rev. Jackson's comments about emasculating President Barack Obama that unsettled his son, is the cause of the current circumstances.

Is the representative still reeling from his imbroglio with convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich? Still caught in the throes of a putative affair with a white waitress?

On this matter, he expounded in a press statement: "The reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago. I ask that you respect our privacy. I know I have disappointed some supporters, and for that I am deeply sorry, but I remain committed to serving my constituents and fighting on their behalf."

Jackson has served his constituents quite productively for some 17 years. At the moment, we can only speculate on his absence or when he will return to office.

Meanwhile, many in his district are complaining that he is not there to represent them, nor have they been given a reason why.

"At some point, he or somebody needs to tell us what's going on," said one Chicago resident in his district.