Cagle: Jesse Jackson's Obama Trauma

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The Pharcyde: If I Were President
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Jesse Jackson's Obama Trauma
Clarence Page - Comment on the column

What did the Rev. Jesse Jackson mean when he accused Barack Obama of "talking down to black people"? That was the second question on my mind in a telephone interview with
Jackson. My first was something like this: "Did you really say you wanted to castrate Obama?"

As the world knows by now, Jackson says he didn't know he was wearing a "hot mic," a turned-on microphone, on the set of a Fox News program when he made what one newspaper headline called his "cutting remark."

Remember the old saying about how character is what you do when nobody's looking? Jackson's inflammatory whispers suggest a new twist: Character is what you do when you don't know that the world may be listening.

If so, his whispers about America's first likely black Democratic presidential nominee reveal Jackson at his worst. He sound frustrated, marginalized and left by the side of the road in the rising glow of a younger star.

Jackson did not dispute that he made the vulgar remark in angry whispers to another show guest about Obama's recent call to expand President Bush's faith-based initiatives. Twice he complained that Obama has been "talking down to black people."

That was a reference, Jackson says, to speeches like Obama's Father's Day address at the predominantly black Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.

It was a speech in which Obama revealed his inner Bill Cosby. He called for more parental responsibility, whether it was assisted by government help or not.

"Any fool can have a child," Obama preached. "That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.

Jackson, too, has called for parental responsibility. I was part of the national media that gave glowing coverage to his PUSH for Excellence drive in the 1970s. Across the country he preached to black youths: READ MORE


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