09/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If You Believe This, I Have a Bridge I Want to Sell You

The following is from a long and interesting piece in Friday's Chicago Tribune --it starts on the front page under the headline, "Jackson eclipsed in the age of Obama," and jumps to a full page inside. Reporter David Greising, writes in a straightforward manner, as he should, about the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his latest crisis:

When a Fox News microphone in early July picked up Jackson's use of a vulgar expression to criticize Obama, the episode seemed to symbolize Jackson's frustration at feeling left on the sidelines by Obama's historic ascendancy.

The `open mic' episode, Jackson said, was the most humiliating public moment of his career, worse even than when he briefly withdrew from public life after news surfaced in 2001 that he had fathered a daughter out of wedlock.

To help himself recover from the Obama gaffe, Jackson spent 10 days fasting and meditating in the Arizona desert, he said, `talking with Dr. King, reading the Bible and talking with myself' in an effort to sort out what had prompted his ill-chosen remarks.

`I wanted to see if there was a gap between my heart and my lip,' he said.

Jackson's verdict: He felt his heart was true, squarely behind Obama. And even if his lips had run amok--expressing a desire to emasculate the African-American candidate for `talking down to black people'--he stood behind the message.

Am I the only one who finds it difficult to believe that Jackson did any such thing? Was there any evidence that the fleshy civil rights leader has shed some pounds--a 10-day fast, after all, is some serious diet.

If I'm skeptical, chalk it up in part to January 2001 when the National Enquirer did to Jackson what it more recently did to John Edwards. The tabloid broke the story that Jackson had fathered a child out of wedlock. (Edwards was outed for having an affair, although the question of the paternity of his girlfriend's baby is yet to be determined.) In Jackson's case, the girlfriend was a top aide whom he had brought to the White House in 1999 as he offered pastoral counseling to the disgraced Bill Clinton. The woman was then pregnant with Jackson's child. (Their daughter was born later in 1999.)

At the time, Jackson promised to withdraw from public life "to revive my spirit and reconnect with my family." Three days later, apparently sufficiently revived and reconnected, Jackson returned to his favorite spot -- the limelight.