The PJ Tatler

LA Times: Jesse Jackson Jr. is a 'Tragic,' Even 'Shakespearean' Figure

The LA Times’ rendering of Jackson’s admission of guilt and corruption is unintentionally hilarious.

The Shakespearean tragedy that was the life of Jesse Jackson Jr. came to its expected denouement Wednesday when the former Illinois congressman entered a guilty plea in federal court to a charge that he conspired to misuse more than $750,000 in campaign funds for his own benefit.

“Shakespearean?” What’s Shakespearean about pleading guilty to avoid deserved prison time? It’s not like Jesse Jackson Sr. is a paragon of virtue. He has lived a life of shakedowns and race baiting. So has his son. They’re both shameless grifters. His son just ran afoul of election laws that Sr. avoided mostly by not getting elected to anything.

The Times’ take, though, is that Jr. was thisclose to deserving his own monument to rival Mt. Rushmore.

The arc of Jackson’s life follows that of a carefully structured dramatic tragedy. He was born into a hot political family and earned his spurs protesting for civil rights and against apartheid in South Africa.

He worked in his father’s failed presidential campaign and moved on to the Democratic National Committee. From his earliest years, he was groomed as his father’s political heir and there was even talk that he could become the nation’s first African American president, a role the elder Jackson had once sought.

He eventually won an overwhelmingly Democratic House seat, first in a primary in which he was opposed by a candidate backed by then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. After the primary, Jackson went on to easily defeat a Republican in the general election and never again had to worry about hearing political footsteps.

And he assumed that he would never hear the words “You’re under arrest.”

Jr. at least turns out to have put some of his loot to fun purpose.

Jackson and wife have acknowledged that rrom 2006 through 2011, they understated their income by not including campaign funds that went for their personal use. Jackson, 47, used campaign money to buy items including a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch and $9,587.64 worth of children’s furniture, according to prosecutors. His wife spent $5,150 on furs, they said.

Jackson also purchased memorabilia including a football signed by U.S. presidents, a fedora warn by the pop star Michael Jackson, and items from slain civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. There were also purchases of items associated with rock star Jimi Hendrix and martial artist Bruce Lee.

They’re grifters. Crooks. Like father, like son. Not tragic, Shakespearean figures. Just criminals who thought their famous names would keep them above the law. And for years, they were right about that.