"You know, sometimes we're not prepared for adversity."
--The Reverend Jesse Jackson
Could this be the "decrepitude and what promises to be an entertaining public dementia" I so carelessly wrote about last year? It's always easier to imagine despised public figures suffering personal indignities than to witness it. There's no pleasure to be drawn from the spectacle of someone's lapsing faculties causing him and those around him embarrassment, no matter how deserved it may seem to those many (one might argue an entire country) who've suffered the demagogy of this ambitious operator, whose greed and vanity were always his most salient features, if only now laid pathetically bare. And make no mistake, the Reverend is not so much outraged at Senator Obama "talking down" to black people as he is resentful at the precocious prince's seemingly effortless assumption of the highest place atop the system of legal and moral privilege Jackson's spent a lifetime hewing out of the granite of our great nation without a care for consequences. What fevered tortures the ego, irreducible and irreversible, inflicts on the faltering and fading mind that must contain it.
I do wonder at these ambitious sorts who seem determined to go on scratching and clawing at one another as if they'll live forever. So few seem to quietly stand down in thoughtful retirement--or perhaps it's just that these are so much less visible than such as Reverend Jackson. Sometimes I suspect that's what pathological ambition is in the end, the attempt to will oneself immortal. Somebody throw a cape over the old guy, a la the old James Brown gag, and lead him offstage. For his and our benefit.
(cross-posted at TAC)