July 13, 2012
Along with everyone else, I think the voters of Jesse Jackson Jr.'s district are entitled to know a lot more about what's wrong with him and what his prospects are. But I don't think it's fair to blame him for the lack of information, and I don't think it's fair to blame his father.
No politician in his right mind would handle a crisis like this so badly, feeding rumors and frustrating colleagues. But that's just the problem: He's suffering from a mental condition of some kind that may badly impair his judgment. If he were in possession of his normal faculties, he wouldn't need to explain anything.
Asking Jackson to make smart, responsive decisions right now is like asking someone who's just been hit by a bus to run a 40-yard dash. He may be incapable for the moment. And he can't very well be faulted for poor choices made by his staff. It's not as though members of Congress usually have detailed contingency plans for when they suffer psychiatric episodes.
And why should Jesse Sr. be expected to inform the media about his son's condition? Jesse Jr. is a grown man with a job, a wife and children. Absent some request from him, it's not his father's place to step into such matters. He's been close-mouthed, which may be unusual for him but is also entirely appropriate.
It would be helpful to voters to get a fuller picture of what's going on. But providing that information is up to the congressman, and it can wait till he's in a fit mental state for the task.
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