On Jesse Jackson Jr. and Being Bipolar

It's no excuse for what he did, says the author. She should know -- she lives with the disease, too.

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Maybe they were trying to keep up with the Obamas? But more than likely, they were trying to keep up with an appearance, both real and imagined.

The Jackson name is a famous name, associated with civil rights and public service, but it’s not a name like “Kennedy” or “Bush” that comes with a compound and generations of family wealth. But Jackson was now in the world of those sorts of people, being the son of a former Democratic presidential contender and Martin Luther King Jr. confidant. He had to mingle, network and move in the same circles.

Now, some are able to keep themselves rooted once they step foot in Washington, D.C.’s mecca for the well-dressed, power-mad nerd. Others rent their houses, put all their money on their backs, threaten whom they have to for inaugural-ball tickets and live in fear of their cars being repossessed.

Still, for those who typically showboat their way into the poorhouse in Washington, they got there honestly. They took out loans and blew through credit cards thinking they could pay it all back if it led to a political windfall down the line. Jackson Jr. chose a different route — outright fraud — and deluded himself into thinking it wouldn’t come back to get him. He sustained this delusion even though he had the same target affixed to his back as every political scion of a civil rights legacy who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

I’m sure what hurts the most is that he knew better and did it anyway.

Being Bipolar

“Sir, for years I lived (off) my campaign,” Jackson Jr. told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins when entering his plea. “I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes, and I used them for myself personally, to benefit me personally.  And I am acknowledging that that which the government has presented is accurate.” –the Chicago Tribune

I lived and worked in Bakersfield, Calif., as a newspaper reporter for five years, and other than some great friends and wonderful work experience, I had nothing to show for it. I was broke, again. And I couldn’t tell you where the money went. Restaurants? Clothes? Prince records? It made me long to have a substance abuse problem.

It’s easier to explain how you can blow your salary on nothing if cocaine is somehow involved.