Updated: December 5, 2013 6:11AM
‘JJJ reports to prison,’’ exclaimed the email news alert on Monday afternoon.
Finally, I thought, the long, strange and strabismic trip of Jesse Jackson Jr. is ending. The politician with the onetime sky’s-the-limit future is going off, quietly, to serve his time for misusing $750,000 in campaign funds.
Silly me. This longtime Jackson watcher should know better.
Jackson was already at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex. He caught us merciless media hounds by surprise.
He was so eager to pay his debt to society that he showed up early. So early that he was initially turned away, and had to wait overnight in North Carolina until an inexplicable “paperwork’’ snafu was resolved.
Strange, yet classic. The Jesse Jackson Jr. Redemption Tour is in full swing. Since 2008, when he was ensnared in the Rod Blagojevich selling-the-Senate-seat scandal, Jackson has adeptly dodged the media while manipulating it.
Now his message via the press: I am eager to pay my debt to society and do the time for my crime.
The post-prison chapter is already being written. The tour actually kicked off back in August, the day he was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison. He spoke publicly for the first time in a year.
“I still believe in the power of forgiveness,” the former congressman said after his sentencing. “I believe in the power of redemption. Today, I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the error of my ways, and I still believe in the resurrection.”
Those surgically selected words laid the foundation for a return to the public eye, perhaps even public service. He has been flanked by some of the nation’s foremost practitioners in legal strategy and public-relations spin.
Just ponder the grandiose pronouncements in the press release his handlers dispatched. “As Jackson begins to serve his term, he is aware that many people have expressed an interest and desire to visit him while he’s incarcerated,” read the release, reported the Chicago Sun Times.
Those visitors would include “Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Pastors Rick Warren and Anthony Miller from California; the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. from Cleveland, Ohio; U.S. Rep. Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio), chairman of Congressional Black Caucus; U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, and crisis-management expert Judy Smith, the inspiration for the ABC-TV show ‘Scandal.’ ’’
Only Jackson would use the occasion of reporting to prison to drop famous names, promote his own PR spinner, and advertise a hit TV show.
Even as he goes to the big house, Jackson wants you to know he still has access to power, clout and limelight. When I am back on the scene in 2015, I will be back in the game.
Note that list of boldface names includes a gaggle of religious leaders, who will no doubt counsel Jackson on forgiveness, redemption and resurrection.
The God route could be an ideal path back to fame and influence. After all, his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., is the most famous minister in America. In Jackson Jr.’s early career, he earned a master’s degree from Chicago Theological Seminary, where he learned that redemption and resurrection are powerful lures.
My advice, Triple J: While you are away, learn a little humility.