Reality Bites Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Last week, his office had said he had grappled with “certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time” — a more dire, if mysterious, assessment than its initial explanation, a week before, that he was dealing with exhaustion.The disclosures, absent details, have set off waves of speculation here and in Washington about the precise nature of Mr. Jackson’s ailment, his location and, four months before his presumed re-election to Congress, his political future. It has left his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who this week is hosting his annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition national conference about how to combat poverty and unemployment, fending off relentless questions about his eldest son.Less than four years ago, Representative Jackson was eyeing the Senate seat that Mr. Obama would soon give up to go to the White House. A poll and local editorials backed him, and Mr. Jackson told everyone who would listen why he should get the seat, distributing talking points and templates for letters of support and, on occasion, carrying a three-ring binder that made his case.The Senate was only one option. By then, he was regularly mentioned as a future mayor of Chicago — one of the few figures thought of as legitimate competition to Richard M. Daley, a fellow Democrat who ran the city for decades, his father before him. There was no rush, though, the thinking went: Mr. Jackson was young and had plenty of time.