Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns, Sending a Letter Full of Howlers the Press Will Likely Let Slide

November 21st, 2012 8:43 PM

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from office today. The timing of the Democratic congressman's resignation (even beyond it taking place on Thanksgiving Eve) is convenient, coming just two weeks after his reelection and prior to what in apparently an imminent indictment. The former enables Democratic Party kingpins in Chicago and its south suburbs to ensure that the seat stays with someone they like and can control (a general election situation with a preceding mini-primary might have been more problematic), while resigning before an indictment makes it likely that Jackson will be eligible for a congressional pension he might have lost had he still been in office when charged.

We are told that Jackson is too distraught to get through a publicly spoken resignation and that he cancelled a conference call with his staff. His resignation letter (original here; Washington Post transcription here) to House Speaker John Boehner, our best potential window to his current state of mind, reveals a man who is utterly full of himself and his wonderfulness. In the process of building this monument to himself, Jackson delivered several self-evident falsehoods the press would never let a Republican in a similar position get away with making without sharp criticism. Since it's a public document, the letter follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

In 1995, when I was first elected to the House of Representatives I came to Washington with a singular purpose — to serve the constituents of the Second District of Illinois. During that time for seventeen years I have traveled on a journey with the people of the Second District of Illinois, and with their unwavering support we have worked together to transform what once was an underdeveloped and nearly forgotten South Side of Chicago. [1]

Along this journey we have accomplished much. We have built new train stations, water towers, and emergency rooms. We have brought affordable housing, community centers and healthcare clinics to those that need it most. In all, nearly a billion dollars of infrastructure and community improvement has been made on the South Side of Chicago and thousands of new jobs have been created. [2] We began this journey by promising fresh water for the people of Ford Heights and a new airport that would employ upon completion 300,000 people. [3] Today the people of Ford Heights have fresh water and sitting on the Governor’s desk 400,000,000 proposal for an airport that will cost the taxpayers nothing and only awaits the Governor’s commitment to build it. And while our journey to strengthen communities and provide a better future for our children will continue, I know that together we have made the Second District of Illinois a better place.

For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service. [4] However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible.

The constituents of the Second District deserve a full-time legislator in Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. [5] My health issues and treatment regimen have been incompatible with service in the House of Representatives. Therefore, it is with great regret that I hereby resign as a member of the United States House of Representatives, effective today, in order to focus on restoring my health.

During this journey I have made my fair share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone. None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right. It has been a profound honor to serve the constituents of Illinois’s Second Congressional District and I thank them for their patience, their words of support and prayers during what has been, and what will continue to be a very trying time for me and my family.

I also thank my colleagues and staff for supporting me and the citizens of my district over the past several months. I am proud to have worked alongside each of them over these many years. I know that our work and accomplishments will have a lasting positive impact on our community and our nation.

With optimism and hope I look forward to the day when my treatment is complete and my health improves. I will truly miss serving as a Member of Congress and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to the people of Chicago, and her Southland for granting me the opportunity to serve them for 17 wonderful years.

Jesse Jackson,Jr.
Member of Congress


[1] -- I'll have to admit that it's been some time, roughly eight years, since I last visited the South Side of Chicago, and while I saw noticeable improvement from several previous drive-throughs on the way to Midway Airport from Northern Indiana, my reaction wasn't that I had seen it "transformed." I do know from news reports that as of just a couple of months ago, the South Side of Chicago was still infested with gang activity, high crime and an out of control murder rate.

[2] -- First sir, to borrow a line from the President who happens to be from your party, you didn't build those things. Who is this "we"? The most you can say is that you might have passed legislation enabling it to happen, or earmarked some money paid in by the taxpayers of America for these projects. Second, spending "almost a billion dollars" to get "thousands of new jobs" is hardly impressive. It looks like about $100,000 per job from here ($900 million divided by 9,000 jobs -- if it were more than 10,000, I think he would have bragged about it).

[3] -- It will be a very sad day if the proposed South Suburban Airport, if it ever comes to fruition, really ends up employing 300,000 workers, because at least a quarter-million of them won't be doing any real work. The busiest airport in the world, Atlanta Hartsfield, only employs "over 58,000 airline, ground transportation, concessionaire, security, federal government, City of Atlanta and Airport tenant employees."

[4] -- Press reports, to put it kindly, indicate that Mr. Jackson has spent more than a small percentage of his "time, energy, and life" on things other than "public service."

[5] -- Five months after he first took a leave of absence, now safely reelected, the guy is just noticing that his constituents deserve full-time service. What a guy.

I have compassion for Jackson's mental situation (assuming it's not a pose), his family's well-being, and his long-term health. I'm completely unimpressed with the decisions he has made during the past five months, which seem like they have been guided far more by a desire to make sure that he and his party come away as unscathed as possible from all of this than anything else.

If a Republican or conservative were involved in such a situation, the establishment press would be taking the same tack as I'm taking now -- and would be correct in doing so. The disgraceful likelihood is that they will just let Jackson go away quietly.

Additionally, here's a "Name That Party" twist: A browser "find" on CBS Chicago's coverage of the story on Democrat counts 11 items. The only one which is visible is a reference to "House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi." Jackson himself is never tagged as a Democrat. The other 10 items "found" can only be seen in the page's ordinarily not visible HTML source, where Jackson is called "Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr." many times, either in Disqus comments or in pingbacks from other sites. That latter seems to indicate that CBS flushed "Democratic" out of an earlier headline.

Cross-posted at