OUCH! Sen. Jacobs compares himself to Rosa Parks
Note: This is a real story. I didn't make it up.
SPRINGFIELD -- In his quest to protect riverboat gambling in Illinois, Sen. Mike Jacobs has taken to comparing himself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.I hate to hear stuff like this. One wonders just how tone deaf our young Senator can get. We can hope that these mistakes are simply part of his learning process, but the fact is that this is but the most recent of many of them. Not good. His penchant for taking self-promotion to embarrassing levels is troubling and simply can't be a good thing for him in the long run.
Sen. Jacobs is an East Moline Democrat and scion of a Quad-Cities political dynasty. Parks, who died last week, was a black Alabama seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white man who wanted her to sit at the back of the bus. She is often called the mother of the civil-rights movement.
Jacobs said the comparison is fair.
He noted he has been a senator for only six months and is standing up to powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, much as Parks stood up for her beliefs.
A measure to ban riverboat gambling passed out of the House last week, with the support of Madigan, who said the current system is broken because it has made millionaires of a small group but has not sufficiently benefited all Illinois residents.
"The Speaker is all wet. If the Speaker's bill passes, it will sink the economies of riverboat communities. I, for one, will stand up to this misguided effort," Jacobs said.
When asked if Jacobs' remarks were appropriate, Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, the only black participant in the news conference Thursday, said, "Sen. Jacobs feels what he feels -- I'm here to talk about the measure to abolish riverboat gambling."
The prospects for the legislation becoming law are miniscule. Senate President Emil Jones opposes the idea, and state government has become dependent on riverboat gambling revenues.
"It's a disservice to Rosa Parks to use her name in a gambling context. The senator's comments are at best ill-advised and at worst crass," said the Rev. Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.
One wonders why someone with the senator's best interests in mind hasn't been able to muzzle him and rein him in. Someone needs to impress upon him that he's coming across as someone who's trying way too hard, shows a whiff of desperation, and seems to have a need to appear to be something he's not, as if he's too eager to be loved. He seems to be impatient to become an elder statesman overnight, which of course is impossible.
Making it worse is the fact that none of this is necessary at all. Jacobs could easily make his actions and views known without resorting to the sort of wild statements he's becoming known for. If someone suggested that he compare himself to a sainted civil rights icon who has just died, that person should already be looking for a new gig, though I simply can't imagine anyone ever being that foolish.
I can only hope that maybe most people won't feel this is as big of a deal as I do. With any luck, it will soon be forgotten. I'd like to see Senator Jacobs succeed, so I wince when I read reports like this.
Especially where Jacobs says "I, for one, will stand up to this misguided effort." as if he's a martyr for the cause, when it says in the next paragraph that due to senate president Emil Jones' opposition, the bill has next to zero chance of passage anyway. Does it have to get this disingenuous?
But as someone who appreciates puns, Jacobs gets points for using the phrase "all wet" and "it will sink the economies of riverboat communities" in refering to riverboat gambling.
NOTE: Apparently, this isn't going down so well over at Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog, or at John Beydler's "The Passing Parade".