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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Behind Jackson’s Gaffe

It’s now pretty clear that Jesse Jackson’s exploitation by Fox News for saying some crude and angry things about Barack Obama during a commercial break will if anything help Obama politically, while deeply humiliating Jackson himself (how bad is it to be publicly denounced by your own son?).
But via TNR’s The Stump, it’s interesting to read an African-American take, from Ebonyjet.com, about the mixed sentiments behind Jackson’s outburst:

When Obama uses a Black church pulpit to send his message of responsibility, he is preaching to the choir both literally and figuratively. The people who need to hear that message are neither on the choir nor in the church, which of course, is part of the problem.
But that particular speech was not in just any church. It was in the first Chicago church Obama attended after repudiating Jeremiah Wright and after resigning Wright’s Trinity Church after incendiary comments made by Father Micheal Pfleger. The press and the world was watching and hanging on every word.
The fear among critics is that the real audience that day was not the Black people in the pews at all, but the white people in middle America looking for a strong signal that Obama was rejecting the politics of racial division and animosity. By choosing that moment to castigate Black fathers, some worry that Obama gave public voice to what white people whisper about Blacks in their living rooms and cemented his image as a post-racial savior at the expense of Black men.

If that worry is true, then Obama wasn’t “talking down to black people,” as Jackson suggested, but talking past them to a different audience. And the irony is that Jesse Jackson ensured that message got through loud and clear.

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