Jesse Jackson Jr. has represented Chicago's South Side in the US Congress for nearly 18 years. While he has caused some controversy, he has risen on the House Appropriations Committee, and had one of the finest attendance records in the House. He handily won the last primary and has no strong opponents in next month's election. Everything was looking good, until he disappeared.
In June of this year, Jackson blew the attendance record by suddenly dropping from public sight. He stopped attending Congress or public events in either DC or Chicago. His staff just made some noises about a health problem, but would not produce the Congressman. Finally the word came out: he was suffering from bipolar disorder and severe depression, and was being treated at the famous Mayo Clinic. Since then we have heard from his staff and family, but no word, not even a phone call, from Jackson himself.
So, his election campaign continues on auto-pilot. Out here in Chicago we fear his sudden resignation, followed by his replacement at the last minute by some machine hack. Holding moribund politicians incommunicado and pulling a bait-and-switch just before the election is an old Illinois tradition. Jackson's long-suffering wife , Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, claims there won't be any switcheroo, but I won't believe it until election day. What is certain is that the Chicago Machine does not want to lose Jackson's seniority in the House.
So, what will happen? Is Jackson recovering from a devastating mental breakdown, or gibbering in the attic? Will the people of his district actually be represented by someone in the Capital? We have so little information, although today some hints begin to surface.