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Barack Obama's win: News to make Jesse Jackson weep

November 4, 2008 | 10:20 pm

It was just a fleeting image, one we saw on the Fox News Channel, from the mass gathering in Chicago awaiting the victory speech from President-elect Barack Obama. The Rev. Jesse Jackson sheds tears shortly after the news that Barack Obama captured the presidency

But it was a telling one -- the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a face in the crowd (though a highly recognizable one), with tears streaming down his face in the minutes after the pronouncements from the networks that Obama had won the White House.

Tears of joy? Tears of wonderment? Probably a combination of both.

Before this cycle's campaign, Jackson ranked as the nation's one credible African-American presidential candidate. When he sought the Democratic nod in 1984, he won five primaries and caucuses.

He more than doubled that showing in 1988, winning 11 nomination contests. In what began as a crowded field, he was the last man standing against the eventual nominee, Michael Dukakis.

Now, his candidacy will be viewed as a prelude to Obama's stunning achievement. As for his actual role in the historic campaign, it will be remembered as a negative one.

Amid ongoing speculation that he harbored jealousy toward his fellow Chicagoan, he created a small flap this past summer when, while waiting to be interviewed on television interview, he uttered crude and uncomplimentary remarks about Obama that were picked up by a live microphone.

Coincidentally, that moment occurred on Fox News. It caused even his own son -- a House member from Illinois prominently mentioned as a possible sucessor to Obama in the Senate -- to scold his father.

In temperament and style, the elder Jackson and Obama are stark contrasts. And as Obama settles into his new office, we wouldn't be surprised if the discontent Jackson gave vent to months ago again are heard from him (in a more refined fashion).

Tonight, though, for many Americans -- black and white -- Jackson's brief and unscripted moment on camera said it all.

-- Don Frederick

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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