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Hidden Motives By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 17, 1999


WHAT KEEPS JESSE GOING? Some must have wondered as the Reverend Jackson recently marched into Decatur, Illinois, trailing clouds of glory and TV network news crews. He had a righteous cause, the 58 year old graying-on-the-inside black activist told reporters. Six African-American students had unjustly been expelled for two years from the local high school.

The Decatur Six had been involved in a "disturbance" in the stands at a football game. No guns or knives were involved, and nobody was injured except one or more of the seven. The worst previous penalty for student fighting that anybody could remember was a ten-day suspension, and Decatur Six defenders were quick to suggest that the two-year expulsion came from racism.

In fact, it came from President Bill Clinton, who in the wake of the Columbine tragedy in Colorado urged schools to adopt "no tolerance" policies towards student violence. Last August the Decatur school board passed such a resolution and in this case of violence, a month later, enforced it.

Despite the Reverend Jackson's demands to set aside the policy in this case, Decatur officials refused. In response to protests and threats, they instead criminally charged four of the Decatur Six with "mob action," a felony. And when Rev. Jackson met with them to disagree, they showed him a bystander's videotape. On this tape these "innocent" students are seen wildly punching, kicking, and running through the audience, exhibiting reckless disregard for the safety of pregnant women and others around them. This evidence—a kind of reverse Rodney King tape—has scarcely been replayed by any national television network, except, to its credit, Fox News Channel. The reason seems obvious: such instant replays would force even most liberals to recognize that the young black men's behavior was violent, criminal, and clearly out of bounds.

Even Reverend Jackson seemed momentarily to blush, knowing that he was defending the indefensible. In negotiation with Illinois' tax-loving Republican Governor George Ryan (just back from cozying up to Fidel Castro during a visit to Cuba, following in Jesse's always-left footsteps), Jackson seemed to agree to limit the students' expulsion to one year during which they would receive "special education," i.e., what used to be called "reform school." Among them, the Decatur Six had been truant for 350 school days, and three were taking their Freshman year for the third time. Jackson seemed absurd when he argued that these kids would be "denied an education" if kept away from terrified classmates.

But within days, after pundits and activists accused Jackson of "backing down," Jesse again prepared to lead protest marches. In the spirit of the 1960s, by Tuesday he'd been led off in handcuffs. Jackson modestly compared himself to Nelson Mandela (a fellow ultra-Leftist, it's true) and the late Dr. Martin Luther King. (Fellow associates of Dr. King have always been a bit sickened by Jackson's exaggerated claims of how close he and King were.) Jackson began by demanding that all of the Decatur Six be readmitted to school as if nothing had happened, but by Monday he and other defenders were insisting that each of the Six had a different degree of guilt or innocence and deserved individual consideration. One pundit wondered if it pained this aging "socialist" to shift from a collectivist justification of the students to a defense based on individualism.

What keeps Jesse going? Certainly ego. As the old joke goes, it's risky to stand between Jesse Jackson and a television camera; he'll run over you rushing to get in front of it. But his deeper motivation, I believe, is that despite his rhetoric, love of big government, embrace of Fidel Castro, and eagerness to raid the untaxed trillions in private pension funds, Jesse Jackson is not entirely a socialist.

Jesse Jackson, in his personal life, is very much a capitalist, or at least an egomaniacal mercenary. This would become instantly apparent were the Reverend Jackson willing to reveal his and his family's acquired wealth.

Not for nothing has Jesse Jackson spent his career selling his fellow African-Americans into slavery to the white liberal overseers of the Democratic Party's welfare plantation. Not for nothing did that $4 million in taxpayer money vanish in the odd bookkeeping of Operation PUSH (whose name, as Jesse might half-jokingly say when in private with fellow anti-Semite Hillary Rodham Clinton, stands for "People United in Servitude to Hymietown," Jesse's pet name for New York City. No wonder African-American Reverend Jesse Peterson of the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny in Los Angeles has called for a national day on which all Americans can join in repudiating Jesse Jackson.)

And not for nothing did Jackson threaten all those corporations with unfounded public charges of racism unless they paid for protection by giving him or his friends money, benefits, or high-paying positions on their Boards of Directors. Intimidation and making others publicly give in to whatever he demands has always been Jesse Jackson's path not only to fame but also to fortune.

One such company shaken down by the Reverend Jesse Jackson was Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser beer and owner of many other enterprises. PUSH came to shove Busch in 1982 in a Jackson boycott attempt that fizzled.

Since then, the Reverend Jackson has oscillated schizophrenically between denouncing Anheuser-Busch for having too few minority-owned distributorships and denouncing brewers in general for targeting extra-potent malt-liquor advertising at alcoholism-devastated minority communities.

But not for nothing do Jesse and his boys wear $1,500 Italian silk suits. In a little-noticed story in the November 16 Crain's Chicago Business Online, reporter C. J. Rewick revealed that two of Jesse's Jackson Five offspring were part of a consortium "close to a deal to acquire" Anheuser-Busch's "largest distributorship in Chicago."

"The deal's financing is unclear," wrote Rewick, but Jesse's sons Yusef DuBois Jackson, 28, and Jonathan Luther Jackson, 32, "were asked to put little money down. …" According to Rewick, "Sources close to Anheuser-Busch say the brewer has turned down other offers in the last two years and has been negotiating exclusively with the Jacksons." Crain's reports that the value of the deal is "pegged at roughly $15 million" and would be "one of Chicago's ten largest minority-owned businesses, with estimated annual revenues between $25 million and $30 million."

"Neither brother," notes Rewick, "has a background in the beer business."

The Kennedy family had no background in the liquor business, except as heavy consumers, prior to Prohibition. Then, miraculously, FDR granted this politically powerful clan a special government monopoly license to import as "medicinal alcohol" vast quantities of Haig & Haig, White Horse, and Pinch Scotch from Scotland. From such sources arose the money and power dynasty of JFK, Bobby, and the runt of the litter Senator Edward Kennedy. And now, in fulfillment of the same American dream, Jesse Jackson's namesake son is a member of Congress and two other sons are about to become even richer by alcohol-soaking the black and other communities of Chicago. What more could a Baptist minister want for his children? The Chicago monopoly to sell Marlboros?

* * *

Al Gore caused laughter across America last week with a witty comedy routine on radio talk host Don Imus' show. Discussing George W. Bush's failure in a TV reporter's quiz to name three of four world leaders—e.g., who is the leader of Chechnya?—the Vice President declared: "Not knowing the names, I think that's kind of understandable."

"I mean, the other day," Gore continued, "I was talking to Otkir Sultonov. You know, the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan. And he asked me, 'Did you send a birthday card to Hamed?' That's of course Hamed Karoui, the Prime Minister of Tunisia.

"And I thought, God! How could I have forgotten? I had just been talking about him with Ion Sturza, the Prime Minister of Moldova. We're old friends. We actually met through a mutual friend, Lennart Meri, the President of Estonia, of course."

The press loved it. "Gore Throws Imus a Radio Funny Bone," opined the liberal New York Daily News, taking a day's break from depicting Hillary Clinton as the Statue of Liberty. "With Tongue In Cheek, Al Gores Bush," agreed the conservative New York Post.

"Gore's joke may look funny, but as a political kidney punch, it's dead serious." wrote Slate's William Saletan. Such satire, Saletan believes, is increasingly used because it allows candidates to say harsh things about their opponents that would seem uncivilized and unpalatable if delivered without the humorous sugar coating. In this case the message was that Gore is fun but also that he has the proven competence in foreign affairs that Texas Governor George W. Bush appears to lack.

But amid the titters, the media generally left two facts unmentioned. First, despite the careful scripting of this comedy bit by his speechwriters, and despite Gore's own handlers selecting the foreign leaders he would name, the Vice President got one of the four leaders wrong.

Several hours before Mr. Gore's Imus appearance, Moldova's legislature by a vote of No Confidence effectively removed reformist Ion Sturza as Prime Minister of Moldova. It was left for John McLaughlin of TV's McLaughlin Group to tell Americans this odd fact. Gore therefore got a major item wrong in his laughing self-puffery, but virtually nobody in the news media reported this.

If such a blunder were made by, say, the mere governor of a state like Texas it would be completely harmless and understandable. But for the man a heartbeat away from the Oval Office to display such ignorance of sudden changes in world leadership is a major embarrassment. Word of the fall of the leader of a nation as significant to America's global interests as Moldova should have sent shockwaves through the executive branch … tremors strong enough to alert even someone as dense as Mr. Gore. Does Moldova have nuclear weapons from its days as part of the Soviet Union? Does Al Gore know? The Vice President's ignorance was a clear signal to leaders around the world that Mr. Gore is shamefully uninformed, out of touch, and incompetent.

A second fact: MSNBC, which airs a television broadcast of the Imus radio show, included in its web news story about the Vice President's appearance the following sentence: "Gore's monologue apparently preempted a quiz that MSNBC had said that Gore would face on the show."

In other words, Mr. Gore knew that Don Imus had prepared a quiz for him like the one by a Boston television reporter that devastated Governor Bush. Gore's first response to Bush's embarrassment had been to jump up and down before the press waving his hand like a smart-alecky kid saying "I knew the answers! I knew the answers!"

What if Imus' quiz exposed Vice President Gore as not knowing the answers? It would undo the entire Democratic propagandist effort to "Quayle" George Bush, to paint Bush in the public mind as intellectually deficient, in much the same way it once "Borked" Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork. (One such "Dan Quayling," in recent days: asked his favorite book as a child, Bush named The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a work that the media gleefully reported was published after he graduated from Yale University.)

Rather than risk making a fool of himself in public by either flunking the quiz or, as Bill Bradley did with the same Boston reporter, refusing to answer quiz questions, Gore did something cynically smart. And thanks to his accomplices throughout the national news media, his tactic succeeded.

I remember facing my first appearance as a callow author on NBC's Today show. The pre-interviewer was nice enough to let me know what questions would be asked. Naif that I was, I did not like the planned questions. As my interview began, I did what you have seen hundreds of politicians do. I started talking, and talking, and talking nonstop. (I'm a charter member of the well-known anonymous Twelve Step Program for chronic talkers, Anon-anon-anon.) Seven minutes later I had run out the clock, and the poor interviewer never got to his second question. Betty Furness off camera wryly congratulated me on being able to talk so long without pausing to breathe.

Al Gore did much the same thing on the Don Imus Show. Not wanting to answer quiz questions, he grabbed the ball and ran far afield with it. The comedy bit had been well crafted by the "mindguard" equivalent of the "bodyguards" who protected Gore during his marijuana-behazed months in Vietnam. The bit was well rehearsed by Gore. So Imus let the Vice President take control of his show, laughing all the way. But by this gimmick Gore made any potential quiz seem silly, and he ran out the clock. He evaded, or in MSNBC's word "pre-empted," having to answer questions that might have caused him to fumble.

And because the chattering classes need some new—as in "news"—amusement and something fresh to yammer about every few days, Vice President Gore might never again face this risk of being exposed with an on-air quiz about his knowledge of foreign affairs. He has already defended himself by claiming ignorance about his boss's domestic ones.

(Thanks to my Talk Radio Network fellow host Roger Fredinburg for his inspiration and research assistance with one item in this column.)


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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