>OBSERVATION: Jesse tops black popularity poll — but it is not good news.

>In a recent poll, African Americans were asked to name their most respected leaders.

It comes as no surprise that the ubiquitous Jesse Jackson topped the poll. It was very surprising, however, that he only garnered 15 percent of the vote – this despite his perma presence in press. Instead of Jackson as the anticipated dominant leader, votes were scattered more evenly over a larger group. It appears that the black community is less enamored with The Reverend than is the news industry.

Equally surprising was the number two and three spots. Of the top three leaders, as selected by the black community, two are Republicans, Condi Rice and Colin Powell. This suggests some loosening of the Democrat grip on the black populace.

Of course, the press cannot quite grasp the significance of information not aligned to its bias. There was no mention of the significance of the two GOP stars near the Jackson level. Ponder this for a moment. Rice and Powell breathing down the neck of Jackson as the most respected leaders in the black community. Hell….given the margin of error, Rice could actually be MORE respected among blacks than Jackson — and she’s not a minister of the cloth.

In some ways, this is not so surprising. Jackson has never been the beneficiary of universal black adulation. In a way, he is like China’s Mao Tse-Tung. There is a lot of official respect, — picture on the Great Wall and all — but behind the scenes, he is not a very popular guy. The killing millions of his own people does not rest easy on the Sino soul.

Regarding Jackson, he has never been particularly popular among the Chicago black community. Those who know him best, or were there to witness his sometimes sleazy rise to prominence, prefer to ignore him. Conversely, Jackson involves himself in surprisingly few hometown causes. His Chicago activities generally center around long harangues at convocations behind the fortress-like wall of his Rainbow Coalition headquarters – and opportunistic speak-and-run press conferences with at least two cameras.

Then there is the Martin Luther King family. Attempting to steal the national limelight while Reverend King’s body was hardly cold has been the publicly forgotten, but privately unforgiven, event that severed the cordiality and cooperation between the Jacksons and the Kings. The fact the he was denied the stage (ooops… I mean microphone) at the Coreta Scott King funeral is a pretty good indication of the family’s contempt for Jackson. This was not an oversight.

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