The Definition of a Gaffe

Jesse Jackson tells the truth, for once.

It's been said that a political gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth.  Never have we seen a clearer illustration of a classic gaffe than in Jesse Jackson's recent remarks on FOX News.  He intended his remarks to be private, but his words were picked up by an open microphone and distributed for all the world to hear.

We do not wish to repeat his exact statement; you can find it in this New York Post article if you're interested.  To paraphrase, Jackson said that Barack Obama's recent criticism of black males and his calls for black men to take some responsibility for the children they father were undercutting Jackson's leadership of the black community.  Jackson then made a vulgar comment regarding an unpleasant surgery he wished to perform on Mr. Obama.

No sooner did the transcript come to public attention than Jackson raced in front of the nearest cameras to apologize.  That, we'll quote, courtesy of CBS.

"Well, they were hurtful and wrong, that's the whole point," Jackson said of his words. "And when you make mistakes you should not equivocate. You should be quick to go into offensive and not try to be evasive. And if it was said to him personally or in some public forum it would be even more hurtful. In this case, my error was responding to a question before a live mic. And so when he does hear them they will not be helpful; they will be hurtful. We have a relationship that can survive this."  [emphasis added]

Now there's an apology for the ages!  His error was the live microphone and it would have been worse to have said this personally to Obama or in a public speech; but there's nothing wrong with saying it privately as long as nobody hears it but the intended listener.  The listener, by the way, was (fellow black) Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs for United Health Group.  Dr. Tuckson is recorded as responding "Mmmm-hmmm" to Jackson's vulgarities, but as he is not really a public figure we'll refrain from further criticism of him.

The funny thing is, Barack Obama himself would probably agree with the sentiment reflected in Jackson's "apology".  Remember his celebrated observation about rural Pennsylvanians, that:

...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Of course, this statement was delivered to a private black-tie fundraiser of atheistic, humanistic, extreme-left San Francisco plutocrats; these remarks were never intended to reach the wider world.  As with Jackson, Obama's error was not his disdain for middle America - he went on to defend the truth of what he had said - but in his poor judgment in saying it where itching ears could hear.

Didn't Mr. Clinton say something to the effect that it wasn't wrong unless you got caught?  Maybe Obama and the Clintons have more in common than they let on.

Was It True?

Let's move on from the various hypocrisies illustrated here, diverting though they be, and consider Jackson's point on its merits.  No, not his medical advice; his observation that Barack Obama's candidacy and criticism of black misbehavior is destroying Jackson's career.

In this, one might almost think he has been reading Scragged, as we've repeatedly made exactly this point.  If a black person can be a plausible candidate for the Presidency - and, odds are, will be President - then the incessant accusations of pervasive institutional racism which are Jackson's stock in trade are laid bare as preposterous for all the world to see.

When Jackson was young, such concerns were not only reasonable, but were in fact true in some cases.  The Jim Crow era, however, ended a long, long time ago.  The country has moved on, but not brother Jesse.

He's carved out a profitable niche for himself, having become the master of the blackmailing shakedown.  Many large companies have paid him millions for "consulting" services to avoid an organized protest about the company's imagined "racist practices."  Alas, political correctness has pretty much prevented the appropriate government agencies from investigating his actions, though the IRS recently has been looking into the fiscal affairs of fellow race-baiter Al Sharpton.

Jackson sees his grip on the black community loosening.  It has now become a death-grip - he'll maintain his power by any means necessary, even by saying and doing things totally contrary to what he once stood for.

Can we imagine Jackson's old boss, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, as did Jackson?  Can we imagine Dr. King making such scurrilous statements about a black man who's running for President of the United States?

The most amazing aspect to this whole situation is that Obama's words doom Jackson's scam even though Jackson knows perfectly well that Obama doesn't mean a word of them.  It's true that big government programs like welfare hurt black families instead of helping them as even the Boston Globe admits.  Mr. Obama, no fool, must be well aware of this inconvenient fact, but changing affirmative action and/or welfare is not on his radar at all.

Sure, Obama throws out a brief criticism of absentee black fathers, mildly reminiscent of Bill Cosby, as a sop to whites who are angry about affirmative action and tired of paying for welfare, but then he goes right on to prescribe the solution as more of the same old big-government programs that have failed so consistently and so continually for the last half-century.  More big government programs just happens to be exactly what Jackson has wanted all this time.

Despite his mantra of "Change!", Obama in fact plans on doing just what Jackson wants him to do by increasing government spending.  Is Jackson's cause so weak as to be mortally wounded even by hypocritical and insincere criticism?  Apparently so!

Reverend or Racist?  Leader or Looter?

Jackson's problem is that he has gone so far out on the limb that he cannot get back, and the sound of its cracking is becoming deafening.  You'll notice that we haven't given him his preferred honorific of "Reverend."

It's oft overlooked, but "Reverend" does not just mean that someone is an ordained minister.  The dictionary shows that it also means "worthy to be revered; entitled to reverence" which in turn means "to regard with respect tinged with awe; venerate."  A shakedown artist, race-baiter, and (lest we forget) father of an illegitimate child from an extramarital relationship who masquerades as a man of God is hardly worthy of that noble title.  While his legitimate son still uses it, he didn't hesitate to throw his own father under the bus as Newsday reports:

In a statement released by his office, Jackson Jr. said he was "deeply outraged and disappointed in Rev. Jackson's reckless statements about Sen. Barack Obama.  His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee -- and I believe the next president of the United States -- contradict his inspiring and courageous career," the congressman said.  "Rev. Jackson is my dad and I'll always love him," he said. "He should know how hard that I've worked for the last year and a half as a national co-chair of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. So I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself." [emphasis added]

Actually, we can't help but wonder, why, exactly, is Jackson worthy of anyone's attention at all?  Here we are, wasting our time writing and your time reading about this profane and boorish charlatan.  If Barack Obama's victory consigns Jesse Jackson to the dustbin of history - well, that won't have been worth it, exactly, but it certainly would be satisfying.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
Jack White, over on, wrote this piece earlier today:

It is VERY good with respect to this subject.
July 10, 2008 1:45 PM
His perspective on "what do we do when The Man is our man"? I think that exact topic is one of the biggest problems the black community has across all these issues. They have spent soooo long living under the assumption that nothing is going to get better because of whitie - and then blaming whitie - that they are really struggling to deal with the responsibility that comes with the power they are gaining.

If the cops are black and they lock you up, who do you blame?

If the President is black and turns off welfare, who do you blame?

Can you reasonably say that they are ALL uncle toms? Not likely.
July 10, 2008 1:48 PM
Obama seems to have decided that he has the entire black vote no matter what he does and that he needs to reassure white people. He HAS to throw the existing black leaders under the bus or white voters will associate him with them.

All the white people I know have met black folks who don't deserve the jobs they have; they blame affirmative action and think it's unfair. A lot of white people have lost jobs or university admissions in favor of less qualified blacks, they don't like affirmative action and think it's un-American. If too many whites decide that Obama is likely to EXTEND these programs, they'll vote for McCain or sit on their hands.

The more noise the old-style black leaders make, the fewer white people will vote Obama.
July 10, 2008 5:28 PM
Obama DOES have the entire black vote. He just needs to shut up the old wolfs who have feel castrated by him.

And let's give credit where credit is due - Obama's message is right on the money with regard to the black community. Conservatives should support that.
July 10, 2008 8:58 PM
We DO support Obama's message about black fatherhood; many black communities are an utter disaster for our society. the July 10 WJS has a front-page article about the Sount Mountain district of Phoenix where 6.1 out of every 100 adults are behind bars.

The Journal cites a recent Pew study shows that 1 white is in jail for every 254 whites, 1 black is in jail for every 41 blacks, and 1 Hispanic is in jail for every 96 Hispanics.

I applaud Mr. Obama's words but his "solution" of getting tough on fathers who won't pay child support is nonsense - how is he going to get child support out of someone who's in jail?
July 10, 2008 9:46 PM

What Was Jesse thinking? Well, who was he talking to?


July 12, 2008 6:11 AM
The whole "Fox News is evil" bent is played out, my friend. Keep the finger pointed at where it belongs - Jackson.
July 12, 2008 10:04 AM
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