Despite disappearing from his Congressional office for almost the entire summer to deal with mysterious personal issues, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. has a huge lead in his race for reelection. In a political climate where one wrong word can ruin a politician's chances for public office, the fact that Jackson, --who is also under federal investigation--can acknowledge that he is mentally ill and still be winning in the polls by 31 points speaks volumes about his party.
Consider the following passage from an article in last week's Chicago Sun-Times:
He's being treated for bipolar disorder -- a mental illness that can bring depression, mania, risky behavior and delusions.
He's had a highly publicized relationship with a "social acquaintance" that rocked his marriage.
His name is repeatedly linked to disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Now he's the target of a federal investigation into "suspicious activity" into his congressional finances.
What does all this mean for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s political future when the Nov. 6 election is a little more than three weeks away?
"He's going to be re-elected," political consultant Thom Serafin said. "In this particular part of the world, being a 'D' is so important."
Not only is he on track to be reelected, he's on track for a landslide. That doesn't make Democrats look very good.
But as the Democratic Party increasingly becomes the champion of the irresponsible as opposed to its more traditional role of as the protectorate of the common man, the quality of the Democratic brand has suffered. Increasingly, it's Republicans that create jobs. Republicans that give to charities. Republicans that have support of the military. Republicans that are more likely to vote. Republicans who, as Wolf Blitzer said Monday night, that tune in with greater numbers to watch debates.
The highest profile example is obviously the presidential race. By most accounts, Mitt Romney is an honorable man and a highly competent businessman. What are President Obama's best arguments against him? He transported his dog on a kennel on top of his car in the 1980s, gave a guy a haircut when he was in high school, wants to cuts subsidies to Big Bird, and has "binders full of women."
The Big Bird case is perfectly tailored to how the Democratic elite view their constituents (and most people)--as too infantile to absorb real arguments.
We're about to see the final iteration in this line of attack. For months I've privately been telling acquaintances that Obama's October surprise for Romney is going to be the case where, as a leader in his church, he counseled a woman to not get an abortion.
It fits perfectly into Obama's narrative that Romney hates women, and it also brings to the forefront Romney's religion (in a sneaky, indirect way). Like the other attacks, I expect it to be twisted and blown out of proportion.
Will Democrats be swayed by it? I have more faith in the Democratic voter than the Democratic politicians and activists. They are smarter than their leaders give them credit for. But they need to apply those smarts and investigate if what they are being told is really an accurate representation of the political landscape.
Perhaps there is no hope for the voters in Jackson's district. I'm not optimistic about bringing over the committed progressives. But nationally, there is one final chance for "real" salt-of-the-earth people to wake up and get it, and cross over to put the adults back in charge.