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What Jesse Jackson Said Was A-OK

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Yeah, that's right. I'm going contrarian on this one. But not really. In one sense, what the good reverend said was totally unforgivable. It's just not bad in the way everyone's saying it is. The point is, what Jesse Jackson said yesterday -- you know, the bit about wanting to cut Barack Obama's nuts off -- really wasn't that vulgar in political circles. Any of you ever have a chance to talk with deeply political animals like Jesse Jackson totally off the record? It is stunning. I have heard elderly, ostensibly mild-mannered pols drop more F-bombs than George Carlin on a rant.

Just look at the ol' heart-pissing joke. Generally, it goes something like this: "David Axelrod would set Karl Rove's heart on fire and then refuse to piss down his throat to save his life." Hilarious, right? I've heard almost innumerable variations on that theme, tailored to a variety of campaigns, campaign operatives and political ideologies. Hunter Thompson included a James Carville/Lee Atwater version of the joke in his 1994 book, Better Than Sex, and the bit had apparently been around for a while even then. And threats of castration are not immune from the dark humor of the campaign trail.

Take, for example, me. A couple months ago, I wrote a blog entry here at HuffPo that ended by calling for the public castration of Grover Norquist. The comments that the good readers of the HuffingtonPost left at that blog entry were strongly approving, especially of the final line. But why? Why such approbation for one castration, and not for the other? Two reasons. First, chopping off Grover Norquist's nutsack with a rusty meat clever is hilarious. Not so Barack Obama. Second -- and this is the part of Jackson's words that is horrifying from a political point of view -- Norquist is the enemy, at least to many of the readers of HuffPo and, natch, to me as well.

The truly unforgivable part of Rev. Jackson's words is not what he said, but whom he said it about. It proves, for what must be the 36,987th time at the very least, that Democrats have never taken to heart the reciprocal of Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." Had Rev. Jackson said he wanted to cut the nuts off of Dick Cheney, we'd all be having a good laugh about it right now.