Our View: Once-bright career has sad ending
SouthtownStar editorial November 23, 2012 10:50PM
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:33AM
The sad ending that had become inevitable arrived last week with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s resignation from Congress.
Since Jackson took a leave of absence from the U.S. House in June to battle depression stemming from bipolar disorder, there was growing speculation he would not return — or might even withdraw from his re-election bid. Jackson stayed in the race and won without campaigning.
But then news reports surfaced that federal authorities were investigating his use of campaign money and his lawyers were talking to prosecutors about a plea agreement. It then was clear that Jackson’s political career could be over.
Many in and out of politics welcome his departure, but we find it both sad and regrettable. Whatever his faults, Jackson was aggressive in fighting for the Southland’s interests — a strong advocate for his district, especially for those with little voice politically.
But his political ambition and large ego led to his downfall, one akin to a Shakespearean tragedy. He grew restless as a congressman and yearned for a larger stage. He considered challenging Richard Daley for mayor of Chicago in 2007 but backed away. He then watched as a little-known state senator zoomed by him, capturing a U.S. Senate seat that Jackson had long eyed and then the presidency.
When Barack Obama’s Senate seat opened, Rod Blagojevich put up the seat for sale. Jackson was never charged in the Blagojevich scandal, but his longtime friend and donor, Raghu Nayak, said Jackson knew of Nayak’s offer of millions for Blagojevich’s campaign fund in exchange for appointing the congressman to the open seat.
That led to lots of bad publicity for Jackson, including embarrassing revelations about a female friend and a House Ethics Committee inquiry that’s ongoing.
We hope Jackson is able to overcome his illness, learn from his errors and find comfort outside of politics. To paraphrase from “Julius Caesar,” the fault is not in the stars but in Jackson himself.