Rep. Jesse Jackson: Hubris vs. Humility

The notion of humility has emerged as a central issue in Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s re-election battle in Illinois, which occurs amid a federal probe and U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation, writes Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura S. Washington.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Getty Images)

In her Chicago Sun-Times column, Laura S. Washington contemplates the re-election campaign of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois amid a federal probe and a U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation. The adversity has apparently humbled him, observers say. Washington, however, is not convinced.

Humility? That notion, quaint in today’s scorched-earth political arena, has emerged in U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr.’s battle for his 2nd Congressional District seat.

I ran across a Feb. 28 opinion piece that nailed Jackson’s dilemma. Jackson ally and Park Forest Mayor John A. Ostenburg penned a candid commentary in the E-News Park Forest, a south suburban newsletter.

“Mention to almost anyone the name ‘Jesse Jackson, Jr.,’ and you will likely be met with a visceral reaction: pro or con,” Ostenburg wrote. Ostenburg went on to endorse his friend, noting, “Recently, I have seen a decidedly more humble Jesse Jackson, Jr.”


“Triple J” has long been a lightning rod in his district, which stretches from Chicago’s South Side to the south suburbs to Kankakee. There are far more words than I have space to explain why. Jackson can be charismatic, calculating, brilliant, pugnacious, wily, ambitious, presumptuous, infuriating and boneheaded.

Be he ever so humble? Not the Jackson I know.

His supporters say he has secured hundreds of millions of dollars for the district, and they applaud his single-minded pursuit of economic development via a proposed south suburban airport.

Detractors argue that Jackson is distracted and disconnected. He’s all Big Hat, No Cattle, grasping and untrustworthy.

Back in the day, Triple J was riding high. He was once touted as a potential first black speaker of the U.S. House and for mayor of Chicago.

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