[clari.feature.mike_royko] JACKSON WON'T SEEK AN UNSPEAKABLE JOB

clarinews@clarinet.com (Mike Royko) (02/03/90)

	If I were a bookie, I'd offer odds of at least 5-to-1 that Jesse
Jackson won't run for mayor of Washington, D.C.
	I haven't talked to him about his plans, nor do I have any inside
information. But there is one thing I know about Jackson. He's smart.
	Let me correct that. There's one other thing I know about Jackson.
He lives to talk. He looks at a defenseless ear the way William Perry
eyes a roast chicken.
	And there is not a subject that Jackson cannot talk about, whether
he knows anything or not. However, his favorite topics are those that
are of majestic, grand, national or global importance.
	So what's he going to say if, as Mayor Jackson, someone yells:
``Hey, why the hell didn't they pick up my garbage this week?'' Garbage
is not the most majestic of subjects.
	But garbage is what being a mayor is about. And street lights,
sewers, curbs, cracked sidewalks, and how fast the cops and firemen get
from here to there or there to here.
	The last thing a mayor needs is the gift of oratory. Even worse,
the compulsion to say whatever pops into his mind.
	The most successful mayor of modern times was Chicago's Richard J.
Daley. He was at his oratorical peak when saying: ``The wunnerful people
of dis wunnerful city.''
	I remember when he exhorted a group of young Democrats to put aside
their differences and unite in the coming campaign. He dipped into
history and shouted:
	``It's like George Washington told his men when he was crossin' duh
Delaware. Let's all get in duh boat!''
	But who cared the way he talked? Not the voters. He knew what
everyone in city government was doing -- feloniously or otherwise. His
idea of fun reading was to pore over a massive budget or a stack of
	In contrast, one of the most talkative mayors in modern times was
Ed Koch, in New York. He talked so much that the voters of New York
finally said, in effect, ``Shuddup and g'by.''
	No, being a mayor is a nuts-and-bolts job. Sure, there are grand
plans to be made. Let's tear this old thing down and put that new thing
up. Let's turn this into a shining city on a hill. It can be great fun,
unveiling architectural renderings of a domed stadium or a hospital
	But when the fun is over, you have to sit down at your desk, get
out the calculator and figure out where the money is going to come from.
The gift of oratory is wasted when you tell a voter packing a mortgage
and tuition payments that he has to cough up more this year.
	It also doesn't do you much good when unions come in and say:
``This ain't enough.''
	I doubt if the rhyme-happy Jackson would satisfy a union boss by
saying: ``It is rough, not being enough, so can we deal on the cuff?''
	No, if anyone in public life would be miscast as a mayor, it's
Jesse Jackson. Even Sonny Bono makes more sense being the mayor of Palm
Springs. He can get by saying: ``Frankie, you're a beautiful person and
a wonderful human being.''
	But Palm Springs doesn't have crackheads sprawled within tripping
distance of the White House. What's Mayor Jesse going to do about that?
Hoist them to their feet and say: ``You (ital) are (end ital)
	No, after one term, he'd be a beaten man. Washington's many poor
would still be poor. The dopers would still be doping. The press would
be asking: ``What about the homeless rate, the homicide rate, the
overdose rate, the tax rate, and how come the garbage wasn't picked up
	Telling the press, ``Ah, but you must consider those problems in
the context of the entire universe,'' just won't cut it.
	So that's why Jackson is pushing the idea of making the District of
Columbia a state.
	Then he could have the job he is perfectly suited for -- U.S.
	A senator doesn't really have to do anything but talk. And they
don't have to do that if they aren't in the mood.
	Senators have aides who do all the mundane chores, from answering
letters to drafting legislation to hustling campaign contributions. So
all a senator has to do is make sure he looks awake and sober when the
C-Span cameras are on him.
	There are those who say statehood for D.C. is ridiculous, and maybe
it is, but I'm in favor of it.
	If it doesn't happen, and Jackson can't become a senator, then he's
going to run for president again. And again and again.
	And as President Bush might put it: ``Ears-wise, I'm not sure I can
take much more of that oratory thing.''