Before making personal remarks to others, remarks not meant for public consumption, do you think public officials will ever learn to...
MAKE SURE THE MICROPHONE IS OFF?!
Probably not, and that means we will continue to have a chance to watch them squirm as they try to justify, rectify, and deny deny deny. Of course, it's kind of hard to deny when you're caught on tape, isn't it?
Although you've all probably heard about it already, the Reverend Jesse Jackson was caught on tape saying sotto voce to an interviewer that Obama is "talking down to black people," and then proceeds to say, "I'd like to cut his nuts off." He follows that statement with a little gesture--I'm not sure if it's an Elvis-style fist jab or a cutting motion.
Good heavens. What happened to unity? Where is the love?
Well, apparently although Jackson is supporting the Obama campaign, the two are not close. I've also read speculation that Jackson resents Obama a bit, because obviously the torch has been passed in the black community. The "leaders" of the political movement are no longer Jackson or Al Sharpton. It's very much a case of out with the old and in with the new, and looks like Jesse might be just a little ticked off about that. Jackson's own son, who is working with the Obama campaign, had some pretty strong words for his father and denounced his rhetoric. Those darn kids!
I also think Jackson just doesn't get it. Although some might see it differently, I don't think Obama was talking down to black people. He was saying what he's been saying all along: no one is going to magically fix things for you. Sometimes you have to work hard to make your life better, and we all need to take personal responsibility. Notice I said "we." I include myself in that, because he wasn't speaking to a race, a religion, or any kind of particular group. He was speaking to Americans, and we all should take personal responsibility, both for our successes AND for our mistakes. I find absolutely nothing condescending in that message, and I totally agree with it.
As for the whole "cut off his nuts" thing...jeez, Jesse. That's harsh. The use of that particular imagery also makes me suspect that someone's manliness feels a tad bit threatened! I think that maybe Jackson feels that his time has come and gone, that he is irrelevant, and that this young upstart is stealing his thunder. That's not entirely true, of course, and Jackson obviously did a lot for the civil rights movement. But those are the kinds of thoughts that everyone struggles with as they get older, and Jackson's response (a rather childish one) is to want to emasculate Obama. Seems pretty obvious to me.
This certainly won't hurt Obama at all, and he accepted Jackson's apology...but it sure makes the Reverend Jackson look mean, petty, and downright juvenile. And it should serve as one more reminder to check your microphone.