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2012 - Senator Mark Kirk suffers a severe stroke in January, and begins a long, tough process of healing and rehab. He issued a video yesterday.

2012 - Representative Jackson suffers from side effects from gastro-intestinal resection for weight loss, and severe depression. He has not been seen since June.

Coincidence? I think NOT.
I think a newspaper should be provocative, stir 'em up, but you can't do that on television. It's just not on.
Rupert Murdoch


A tale of two pols. Jesse Junior, as many call him in Chicago, has a law degree, as well as seminary degree. For years, he has appeared articulate, liberal, but willing to talk to reasonable opponents. He cooperated and worked with Gov. Edgar, Henry Hyde, Gov Ryan on a variety of issues, including a third Chicagoland area airport. He also had an unimpeachable liberal voting record.

His biggest strength is his name, and that of his father's. His biggest weakness?
See above.

When Jackson first disappeared without notice, before his office announced a leave of absence, Jackson was on the receiving end of significant splatter from the tar-filled brush that sent Gov. Blagojavich to prison. Raghuveer Nayak, a Jackson confidant and fundraiser, was finally indicted by the feds in July because of his efforts to buy a senate seat after then Sen. Obama took office as president.

- - - -

Mark Kirk, or Captain Kirk as some spoofed him, is also a lawyer, and holds the rank of Commander in the US Navy Reserve. Despite some embelishment on his mis-recollections, he did win several service awards and medals, and served honorably in an intelligence unit during our occupation of Kosovo.

In January, 2012, he suffered a severe stroke, and has been on leave from office since then. Yesterday, he released a video in which he spoke and showed his rehab efforts, including walking up stairs and walking atop a treadmill.

Since becoming Illinois' junior senator, Kirk was notable for breaking away from the rabid GOP on several issues, including detentions of Americans without warrants and the repeal of DADT, which led to gays being able to serve in the military. Clearly a member of a dying breed, he actually talks to democrats and seems to vote his conscious. A self-described conservative, his pragmatism keeps showing up under his skirts.

So, what's the deal? Both made some mistakes, both served honorably, and both have suffered serious maladies recently.

Well, this comparison is only partially fair, because of the differing reactions of both camps to their current situation. What is telling is how others respond to them both.

STROKE - a stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. That part of the brain cannot work properly and can suffer permanent damage. paralysis of one side, memory loss, vision changes, often accompany a stroke. Because the brain is so effing pliable, something we still don't quite understand, intense rehab often results in surprising gains and recovery, as undamaged portions of the brain take over and replace the injured bits.

DEPRESSION - is a clinical condition, marked by an inability to concentrate, sleep (or sleep too much) loss of interest in most activities, fatigue, feeling of worthlessness, difficulty in concentrating and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

MOOD DISORDER - mood disorders, including depression, affect a surprising number of people. given the adverse stigma that still accompanies mental illness, too many people ignore treatment, or even fail to report their problems. self-medication, through alcohol or drugs, and suicide attempts, are often the first sign that outsiders see. Mood disorders can be treated, but it often takes a great deal of time and patience, assuming that the patient cooperates.

One striking difference between Kirk and Jackson is how their camps reacted to the initial problem. In Kirk's case, there was no opportunity at cover-up. Instead, family and friends reported fairly quickly and accurately on his condition, diagnosis, and prognosis.  Kirk has been treated throughout in Chicago hospitals, and now is a temporary resident of Rehab Institute of Chicago, one of the best midwest facilities that work your ass off getting you better.

In Jackson's case (causing conspiracy theories surrounding the Bloggo convictions and recent indictments) silence was the key. Only a month later did they mention "exhaustion" as the reason for his avoiding the campaign trail or his congressional duties. It was not until late July that his family admitted that he was transferred by private jet, from Arizona to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Why Jackson avoided so many stellar, world class facilities, including U of C, Northwestern, Rush Pres, or other superb facilities, and went to Arizona first, then the Mayo, can probably be explained by his family's fear of stigma attached to mental illness. Maybe.
But, silence and lack of information has been the norm for Jackson, while openness and information flow has been the norm for Kirk.

I cannot blame Jackson or his camp for their search for privacy. Depression is nasty. Certainly any senate campaign, or presidential run are gone just because of his diagnosis. There are too many idiots out there who equate mental illness with someone dangerous or unstable, when the contrary is far more true. Mental illness is an illness, in some respects, no different than a broken leg, cancer, or the flu. If treated properly, people can and often do get much better. Yet in our hyper-intensive, TeaBuggerer infected Body Politic, Jackson's political future is toast, although he can and probably will retain his congressional seat, if he so chooses.

In both cases, I know that most of you join in my sincerest wishes that both continue to heal, and both can return to their jobs sooner, than later.

- - -

Here's my real problem with these two. Not how the camps have responded, but how others have responded to their condition.

Republicans, especially from Illinois, have stood with Kirk from the beginning. Judy Biggert and other GOP congressmen, as well as local officials have repeatedly supported him and wished him well. WHAT IS STRIKING IS THAT DEMOCRATS DO THE SAME THING.

Senator Durbin (D)  calls him weekly, seeks his input, provides him with senate updates, and has joined with him to pick federal judges and select a panel to find a new US Attorney (replacing Pat Fitz). Rahm Emanual calls regularly, as does former Mayor Daley. Even Harry Reid keeps in touch, despite his busy schedule.

It is safe to say that regardless of his political label, people of all stripes and backgrounds are in his court, pushing for a complete recovery.

- - -

Compare that to the response to Jackson's illness. For the most part, S I L E N C E.
Some democrats, namely Mayor Rahm  and Dick Durbin, have wholeheartedly supported Jesse Junior, and wish that he improves soon so he can back to work. Yet there has been more sniping on the D side, quiet, behind the scenes, subtle, but it is there.  From the GO Pee side? Nothing. No public statements of support, no letters of hope and good wishes, nothing.

I suspect several things as the cause of different responses to these to public servants' illnesses.

a. Jesse's black. If you hadn't noticed, his skin is noticeably darker than a caucasian's wan and pale melatonin-free epidermal layer. Just as too many people react to the President's skin, rather than his deeds and his words, racism is well and alive across this country. The lack of support given to Jackson is at least, in part, based on race and racism. Shame on us for not doing more about it.

b. mental illness still has a stigma. This has had the unfortunate impact in two ways. Racists and idiots remain either silent (or make some disgusting jokes that I will not bother to repeat here) or snicker quietly. Even the Jackson family  acted poorly, keeping secrets (and creating problems and rumors unnecessarily) when openness would have probably worked better.  But, an illness is an illness, and with treatment, Jesse Junior can again sit in Congress, doing hard work on our behalf and returning to the forefront of liberal and progressive ideas and ideals. Shame on us for not supporting him more during his troubles.

c. rampant TeaBuggerism. I thought this sick, vile, destructive, bowel movement was dead in 2009-2010. I was wrong. Instead, as the parties grow further apart, the GOP is now being led by its balls, as TeaBuggerers keep twisting their short hairs, ever more off the cliff to the reicht side. If any normally human and humane GOPer dared call Jackson or offer public support, they would be castrated by the rest of the TeaBuggerers and quite possibly tossed out of office in November. Even if one or two GO Peers in office still have a soul, they are too fearful to show it these days. Shame on them and the whores they ride in on. At least in Tampa Bay later this year. (I apologize in advance to the working women who will work hard on their backs, while these cretinous, willfully ignorant, family valued, bible beating, hippo-critters from the GO Pee try to stiff them on tips)

d. Jesse's dad. There are a not insignificant number of people who utterly hate Jesse Jackson. Rumors about his finances, his taxes, his near indictment for financial irregularities (PUSH), and his early grandstanding after MLK's assassination, have caused many people to discount anything he did (and frankly, he has done a lot, including the release of prisoners and arrestees from some dicey placed in this world) and to always think the worse of him. I have even heard far left liberals describe his son, "Well, at least he's not his dad."  But regardless of how much good he has done, Jesse simply pisses people off, and even scares white, conservative, christians who believe the bible bits about slavery, and wish it were still true.

Most likely, in Jackson's case, it is a combination of all four. His family did not help matters, and the timing of the Nayak arrest and indictment has only made things worse, but I can understand their search for peace and quiet, while Cong. Jackson hopefully improves quickly. But the hatred, racism, and double standards present in so many  other politicians is as clear as it is reprehensible. Luckily, Durbin, Emanual, and several others continue to support him publicly and privately. As do I and many here on dKos.

As for Kirk, get well soon, sir. We disagree on many issues, but everyone, including you,  deserves the support you receive.

Originally posted to Church of Ineffable Stupidity on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.


Should the public react differently to Kirk's and Jackson's illnesses

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:05:29 AM PDT

  •  Question - how long can legislators take off (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, txcatlin

    before their constituents get antsy and actually want representation?

    Stroke rehab can be very lengthy.

    Also, didn't Rep. Jackson have weight-reduction surgery recently? The anesthesia can have long term effects that have only begun to be studied.

    This is, of course, the difference between republicans and human beings. - Captain Frogbert

    by glorificus on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:24:54 AM PDT

    •  good question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Smoh, txcatlin

      Hell, we had a president for four years who wasn't there. 6 months for a senator or 2 months for a congressman is nothing in comparison.

      The gastric surgery he had was pretty radical. I have heard of some awful results, including severe depression because of the side effects.

      But Jesse Junior has had some troubles last and this year.

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:10:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  kind of a boring poll... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am always enraged at the response of people at large toward mental illness, especially mood disorders.  For gods sake!  Everyone has experienced some level of anxiety, depression, variable energy level.  Why is so hard to empathize with these conditions?  Ignorance, gotta love it.

        Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

        by Smoh on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 09:56:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  they can be fatal. (0+ / 0-)

          It is an illness, like any other.

          as for the TeaBuggerers, they bask in the light of their willful ignorance. They hate experts and expertise, they hate the educated, the empathic, the progressives, even though they personally have gained so much from all of the above.

          Their rock is the bible. Everything else is a pack of untrustworthy lies. That is sick, and bodes poorly for our future.

          What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

          by agnostic on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 10:14:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's mostly b/c of the stigma associated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with mental illness. His camp being silent for months didn't help and made it look like they are hiding smth sinister.

  •  Kirk has no conscience, so he can't vote it. (0+ / 0-)

    Don't puff him up. He's just another damned Republicon nightmare, and we'd all be better off without him being in office.

    That being said, sure, I hope he recovers. I also hope he finds some compassion and makes it so everyone in IL can get the same kind of cushy healthcare he gets. Yeah. Right. That'll happen.

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