It appears that Woody Allen was wrong when he famously said that “eighty percent of success is showing up.” Jesse Jackson Jr. proved yesterday that success can be just not showing up. While Republicans are grappling this morning with the rather pathetic image of Todd Akin in Missouri, Democrats have Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois. At least Republicans can point out that their leadership opposed Akin and he was defeated. Jackson won reelection despite his disappearance for months from office and failure to actually campaign. He won despite rising allegations of corruption and his long-term residency in the Mayo Clinic for whatever are believed to be psychiatric problems. He won despite not explaining any of this to this constituents. Like Akin, the thought of withdrawing for the benefit of his constituents never appeared to a serious consideration. Yet, the people of the Illinois 2nd congressional district reelected him to Congress by a 63 percent vote.
After disappearing from June to November from the public eye with both reporters and constituents speculating for weeks on where he was like some bizarre game of “Where’s Waldo?” He first went to Arizona and then ended up at Mayo diagnosed with bipolar depression and gastrointestinal issues.
I am sympathetic with Jackson seeking mental health treatment and, if a member can recover from such an illness, I would commend constituents in supporting him. Jackson however simply disappeared and refused to answer the most basic questions about his whereabouts or condition. This occurred at a time when he was under serious ethical investigation for his alleged role in offering cash to then-Gov. (now convicted) Rod Blagojevich in exchange for a Senate seat.
Then there is the criminal investigation in October that Jackson has committed an array of financial improprieties, including possible misuse of funds monitored by Congress to decorate his Washington D.C. Home. Of course, Jackson was not challenged on his explanation of these ethical and criminal allegations because he offered no explanation during his campaign. Indeed, he had no campaign. Unlike the GOP leadership and Mitt Romney with regard to Akin, there was no move by President Obama or Democratic leaders to push Jackson out of the race. No one wanted to face his powerful father, Jesse Jackson, Sr.
While refusing to respond to questions during the campaign, Jackson did respond to his reelection and assured constituents that “Everyday, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the Doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years.” Well, not recently.