That definitely is the case with regards to one-time Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who on Wednesday will appear before a federal judge in the District of Columbia for sentencing on charges that he used money from his campaign fund in improper ways.
HE’S GOING TO wind up doing some time in a federal prison, as will spouse Sandi (the former 7th Ward alderman) – whose crime is signing the income tax returns that did not acknowledge the campaign fund money as income.
But what amuses me the most about this whole situation is the degree to which people don’t really understand what is going on with regard to Jackson.
For when I hear people talk about Jackson’s predicament, it seems that everybody is convinced that Jackson is going to prison for trying to bribe former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to try to get himself a seat in the U.S. Senate!
I realize many people don’t pay close attention to the details when they watch newscasts. And I also comprehend that details can be forgotten (I usually have to look things up to ensure that I get them correct when I continually write about an issue).
BUT I HAVE lost track of the number of times that I have had to explain to people that the criminal case against the former Congressman from the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs has nothing to do with the Senate seat from Illinois once held by Barack Obama.
That was the political vacancy that Blagojevich got to fill when Obama was elected president in 2008. It also was the one that resulted in Blagojevich’s indictment when the federal investigators who were already scrutinizing him felt his negotiations with political people to fill the post amounted to him soliciting bribes in exchange for the appointment.
A part of me wants to believe that if Jackson’s behavior amounted to offering a bribe, the prosecutors would have filed the requisite criminal charges. They’d have no reason to hold back.
Although in the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday, Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, insisted that Jackson’s people offered him what amounted to bribes that he personally turned down on behalf of his gubernatorial brother.
IN SHORT, JACKSON is the criminal and not Rod.
Take that perspective for what it’s worth. All I know is that there are many people who are going to eagerly snap it up. They will believe it. Some will desperately want to believe it.
It has me wondering if Jackson is destined to go down in the political annals as the guy who tried to bribe his way into a higher political office – even though the record of facts we now have doesn’t really back up that assertion.
What is humorous about this particular instance (Blagojevich wound up giving the Senate appointment to former Illinois comptroller and attorney general Roland Burris, and there’s no record that he made any kind of payoff) is that I specifically recall thinking that Blagojevich should have seriously considered Jackson for the appointment.
BUT HE DIDN’T, in large part because Blagojevich giving the post to Jackson would have resulted in him creating yet another political person who would have surpassed Milorod in significance.
And the big thing about comprehending Blagojevich is the fact that he had a bloated ego – even by the standards of a political person.
Which means it is possible – likely, in fact – that Blagojevich would have rejected a bribe from Jackson just for kicks. Which might mean that Blagojevich wasn’t guilty.
But the reality is that Blagojevich is doing a lengthy prison sentence, while Jackson looks at up to four years in a federal facility because he couldn’t resist using other peoples’ money to buy himself kitschy items that once belonged to people like Michael Jackson and Muhammad Ali to decorate his office.
WE SHOULD ALL keep in mind that many of the people who are most eager to see Jackson put away are the ones who have resented his ever being elected to Congress in the first place.
He’s not exactly “Public Enemy Number One.”