Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bill, Hill, Jesse, Al, Barack, and the Politics of Race

The aircraft was just pulling into its designated parking space, as the captain and first officer stood behind the gate agent, watching her manuever the jetway up to the main cabin door.

The ear-splitting noise began to dissipate, as the engines began to wind down - the captain who brought the aircraft in having shut off the engine fuel switches - the two waiting pilots could now pull their fingers out of their ears.

With that, the first officer opened the door to the stairway leading down the backside of the jetway.

"Hey, there's a police car out here, with a limo." The waiting captain stuck his head around the corner to see who would rate such special treatment.

"I don't believe it. It's Jesse Jackson."

Sure enough, the Reverend himself was climbing up the jetway, accompanied by a local police officer, and three other people. The other people turned out to be two of Jesse's personal assistants - one male, one female - and another person, also male, who the captain assumed was from the mayor's office.

Evidently, the Good Reverend had an "in" with SOMEBODY in high places, with a direct line to the airline, and could therefore bypass the usual routine reserved for the Great Unwashed.

As soon as word got out, a large group of airline employees had congregated at the aircraft, watching the Reverend and his aides being screened by TSA for the flight. Regular boarding had been delayed so the VIPs could be screened privately. Shortly thereafter, the police officer left.

When the screening was over, the crowd left, and the only people still standing at the aircraft were Jesse, his two aides, and the "mayor's" aide.

Having said their "Good-byes," the "mayor's" aide turned to leave. Before he opened the door to the back of the jetway, however, he stopped, turned, and pointing to his lower lip, in an apparent attempt to imitate Bill Clinton said, "You better get some ice on that."

(As the astute reader of TheFlyingCurmudgeon must surely recognize, these are the words that Bill Clinton "allegedly" said to Juanita Broderick after "allegedly" raping her when he was Attorney General of Arkansas. As has been reported in the past, Ms. Broderick's charges are very credible, and have never been denied by the former President.)

Hearing this, the Reverend turned to his aide and, referring to the "mayor's" aide responded, "He always be clownin'."

(The irony of hearing this was particularly striking, since Jesse Jackson was supposed to have been Bill Clinton's "Spiritual Advisor" during the whole "Monica Lewinsky Scandal." As it was later revealed, while "ministering" to the President in his hour of need, the Good Reverend was already making payments to his own mistress in California, who had borne his "love child," some time before.)

All four of them seemed to get the joke, and no one seemed the least bit embarassed by this - least of all Jesse - since they all started laughing. The "mayor's" aide then opened the door and stepped off the jetway. At this, the Reverend turned, and began to board the aircraft, followed by his two aides. As he entered the aircraft, he shook hands with the two flight attendants in the front, and then turned and shook the captain's hand.

Upon seeing Jesse Jackson in person for the first time, the initial thing that struck The Flying Curmudgeon was how big he was. Well over six-feet-tall, and easily 250 lbs., he is a HUGE man.

Television does not do him justice.

As the Reverend and his entourage had shown up at the last minute, and since the flight was booked "full," the only seats available to the three were all the way in the back. So - to the back of the airplane they went.

Finally, the aircraft was boarded with the rest of the passengers, backed off the gate, and we taxiied to the runway and took off for our destination - a large, mid-western city.

Upon landing roughly two hours later, TFC taxiied the aircraft to the arrival gate, and the process was reversed. First, all the "regular" passengers deplaned, and next, the Reverend and his aides. As before, Jesse was very cordial, shaking hands with the flight attendants on the way out. When he got to the cockpit door, just prior to turning to leave the aircraft, he stopped, stuck his hand out and said, "Captain, ya'll gave me the Rosa Parks treatment."

Somewhat taken aback by this, extending his own hand to shake Jesse's, TFC replied simply, "Sorry, sir, we were booked."

Obviously, Jesse didn't care for the accommodations in the rear of the aircraft. Apparently, he had assumed he would be put in First Class. On this completely full flight, however, this would have meant bumping passengers who had already paid for the privilege of sitting there.

"Okay, TFC, where are you going with THIS one?"

First of all, the Reverend's comment was revealing. EVERYTHING that Jesse Jackson perceives in this world is perceived through the prism of race. Anyone else, arriving at the last minute to an otherwise full airplane, would have accepted the situation for what it was, and not personalized it the way he did.

And why wouldn't he? Jesse Jackson has built a rather lucrative career around injecting race into every conceivable situation. Ditto the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Maybe TFC missed it, but, did Al ever publicly apologize for the Tawana Brawley thing? Did he ever apologize to the falsely accused New York City police officers, and their families, for putting them through that years long ordeal?

How is it that now, after that disgusting episode, the Freddie's Fashion Mart tragedy, as well as a number of other tawdry affairs, the Reverend Al is treated so "reverently" (pun intended) by the media in this country?

Calling this man a charlatan is an insult to charlatans everywhere.

And yet, Democrats still flock to Harlem, in order to kiss Al Sharpton's ring. Though TFC is not exactly a fan of the "I-man," where does the Reverend Al get off pointing fingers at Don Imus, or anyone else?

Also, returning to Jesse for a second, the fact that he and his aides could find humor in something as tragic as a woman's rape is nothing short of repugnant. To people like Jesse Jackson, (and Bill Clinton, for that matter), "regular" folks like Juanita Broderick, Monica Lewinsky, et al, are not really human beings at all, but merely objects, meant to satisfy some brief, primal need - to be disgarded as soon as they are "done" with them.

Now, here we are in 2008, an election year.

Hillary has just staged a "comeback," as it were, in New Hampshire, after the beating she took in Iowa at the hands of Barack Obama.

Barack Obama. What to do about Barack Obama? In their quest to regain their "rightful" spot as the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this is the conundrum the Clintons are faced with.

Senator Barack Obama is not Jesse Jackson, nor is he Al Sharpton. A polished, charming, and extremely likeable individual, the Clintons are forced to tread a very fine line. Notorious for attacking anyone who would dare stand in their way, in attacking Barack Obama, they risk alienating the very people who have helped them get where they are.

After all, as Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison told us back in 1998, Bill Clinton was the "First Black President."

Break out the popcorn, folks. To say the least, the next several months should be very entertaining.


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