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Time to end the Jackson Jackson Jr. bob and weave

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (left) meets with U.S. Rep. Jesse JacksJr. Mayo Clinic Rochester Minn. Aug. 16.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (left) meets with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Aug. 16. | Office of Patrick J. Kennedy~AP

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:08AM



Dear U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., representative of Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District:

Like all politicians, you have enemies who, fueled by ambition, jealousy or old scores, want to see you gone.

I have never been in that camp. Now, even this longtime Triple J watcher says, enough.

My last straw was the latest news in your tragic saga. You have put your home up for sale in Washington, D.C. The home where you retreated after a long, confusing absence. You didn’t return to the home that counts — your district.

The news sparked speculation that you might resign from office, perhaps even before the Nov. 6 election.

Then came a statement from your office: “Like millions of Americans, Congressman Jackson and Mrs. Jackson are grappling with soaring health-care costs and are selling their residence to help defray costs of their obligations. The Congressman would like to personally thank everyone who has offered prayers on behalf of his family.”

You vanished in early June and have not been seen nor heard from since. Your only communications with your constituents have been occasional cryptic comments from your family — and empty written statements churned out by your staff.

The election is just six weeks away. Voters who nominated you for a 10th term deserve a clear, honest and detailed explanation of your condition, its outlook and the prospects for your return to service. Now.

You are clearly very sick. The official diagnosis is a “bipolar disorder.”

No wonder. You’ve been ducking and dodging investigations, allegations and rumors for four years. That’s a long, long time to keep body and soul whole, especially for a man who once had credible aspirations to be a mayor, a U.S. senator, even speaker of the House.

Still, your silence leaves little room for empathy. Some are calling on you to speak out, to help encourage others who suffer in the shame of mental illness. Others claim that you are just hiding from the feds.

I don’t buy that noise.

Your job belongs to the voters. Not to the Democratic Party bosses readying their smoke-filled rooms. Not your would-be successors who are writing your political obituary. Not to family members looking for a shortcut to high political office.

What’s going on with you? It is impossible to discern the truth behind the cloak of secrecy, obfuscation and spin that you have created.

How can voters count on you to be an effective advocate if you can’t manage credible, substantive communications about your illness and political future?

The Jackson I know is headstrong and hyper-ambitious. At times you fly high above your grade. You are also a decisive master of political strategy, fund-raising, retail politics, thinking big and acting bigger.

I hope your illness has not vanquished that Jackson. I would love to see the old Triple J back in the fray.

Will you stay, or will you go? Time to decide.



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