early and often

Why Barack Obama Should Thank Jesse Jackson (It’s Nuts, We Know)



Though his remark about cutting off Barack Obama’s “nuts” for “talking down to black people” was dumb, Jesse Jackson was at least smart enough to get out ahead of the story. He’s been apologizing profusely since yesterday afternoon, before the clip was even broadcast, saying, “For any harm or hurt that this hot-mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep, and unequivocal.” He’s also added that his remarks were “crude” and that he doesn’t “want harm nor hurt to come to this campaign.” The reverend shouldn’t worry about that though, because the unanimous opinion is that his colorful displeasure with Obama will only help the presumed Democratic nominee’s candidacy. It may, in fact, be the first time in history that the threat of castration was, well, kind of a good thing.

• Chuck Todd and friends think this fight “obviously” is “helpful for Obama among white voters who have never been comfortable with how Jackson practices identity politics.” But besides that, it also “helped bury the FISA story, which was creating some minor headaches for Obama.” [FirstRead/MSNBC]

• Marc Ambinder writes that “Obama should send him a fruit basket for drawing attention to precisely the worldview that Obama wants centrist voters to know that he holds.” [Atlantic]

• Ed Kilgore, taking what he calls a “politically crude” position, doesn’t think Obama “is going to be hurt by an off-the-record complaint by Jesse Jackson that he’s being too morally demanding, particularly as reported by Fox News.” [Salon]

• Matthew Yglesias is simply confused as to why Jackson wanted to cut Obama’s nuts off, as Jackson has been “so deep in apologizing-and-backpedaling mode, that we’re not getting much of an explanation of what he was saying.” [Atlantic]

• Eric Kleefeld notes that the “bulk” of Obama’s response to Jackson’s apology “is dedicated to standing by the main points about personal morality that Jackson had attacked.” The acceptance of the apology is placed “in a secondary position to the main points,” meaning “Obama will continue speaking as he pleases.” [TPM Election Central]

• Andrew Sullivan says “Jesse Jackson hands Obama the kind of electoral gift any politician dreams of.” In this case, “Obama gets his Sistah Souljah moment handed to him on a plate…by Bill O’Reilly.” [Atlantic]

• Kathryn Jean Lopez agrees that this will help Obama, as “some conservatives will have the thought that anyone who can tick off Jesse Jackson can’t be that bad (and if it’s on issues like fatherhood, especially so).” [Corner/National Review]

• Jack White believes Jackson’s comments “symbolize the social, political, and psychological vertigo that all of us, and especially black Americans, are experiencing because of Obama’s success.” In short, not everyone is “ready for the day when The Man becomes a black man.” [Root]

• Ed Morrissey believes Jackson’s comments were “a bit of a favor” to Obama, as “[m]ainstream America has long distrusted Jackson, and anything that puts distance between him and Obama can only help support Obama’s status as a member of the new generation of black politicians.” At the same time, Jackson likely “underscore[d] his identification as a mostly discredited has-been.” [Hot Air]

• Mickey Kaus supports Jackson somewhat: “There is something condescending, or arrogant” about Obama’s remarks about becoming basketball players or rappers. There’s certainly “a better way to phrase it that doesn’t set up Obama as a commanding know-it-all.” Additionally, you probably wouldn’t like it if you were a responsible parent and “Obama came to town and told you, ‘So turn off the TV set, put the video game away.’” [Slate]

• Mary Mitchell writes that black voters “are not about to abandon Obama because he finds more opportunities to talk about black pathology than he does white racism.” And if Jackson keeps this up, “he’ll find out how quickly even a civil-rights icon like him can get left behind.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

• John Kass suggests David Axelrod should have paid Jackson for his slipup, since “Jackson’s rhetorical castration — and the grunting — helps Obama with white voters.” [Chicago Tribune]—Dan Amira

Related: Why Jesse’s Testy: Obama’s ‘Tough Love’ for Black Community

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Why Barack Obama Should Thank Jesse Jackson (It’s Nuts, We Know)