Whether those who speak about this on condition of anonymity will ever reveal their true thoughts to the public is doubtful. Just as politics is a world in which private views -- such as Gerald Ford's interview with Bob Woodward -- often only come to light after the person in question has died, so too it seems to be in the world of King's legacy.
Public opinion over Jackson has been mixed over the years. It's fair to say that his unfavorable poll ratings usually outpace his favorable ratings. Nevertheless, his popularity among African-Americans is always high. For the purposes of Jackson's career, that's all that really matters. Self-appointed though he may be, he remains a prominent spokesman for American blacks.
So much more the irony that many prominent names presumed to be admirers of Jackson in fact feel uneasy in his company and unsure of his motives, both now and for many years past.
With new African-American leaders prominent in the U.S. government, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and possible presidential candidate Barack Obama, it's safe to wonder whether Jackson's emerging role will be reduced to showing up at funerals and initiating lawsuits.
James Brown was known as "the hardest working man in show business." Jesse Jackson may be the hardest working self-promoter in America.
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