Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2000 / 6 Tishrei, 5761
The debate won't begin for a few hours, and meantime Jackson is watching the Chicago White Sox play the Seattle Mariners on a large TV provided by Budweiser, who is also providing free soft drinks, chicken, roast beef, salad and, of course, Budweiser.
Many members of the Fourth Estate are scarfing down these free goodies without a twinge of guilt -- the same reporters who say politicians ought to clean up their act see no reason to examine their own behavior, it seems -- but Jackson is standing there watching the TV screen and neither eating nor drinking.
Various TV crews are begging for a few moments with him, but he waves them off as the Sox come to bat in the ninth.
"I'm having a sacred moment," he says and the TV crew backs away a respectful few steps.
But Jackson being Jackson, he sees more than a mere baseball game. He is sees metaphor.
"Blacks in Seattle are cheering for a white pitcher to strike out a black man playing for the White Sox," he says, "just as whites in Chicago are cheering for a black hitter to get a hit off a white pitcher. Why are we able to overcome race in sports?"
I first interviewed Jackson when I was a reporter for my college newspaper, and I have learned he does not expect replies to his questions. He provides both the questions and answers.
"It is because the playing field is equal," Jackson says. "In the projects not far from White Sox park, the educational playing field is not equal. But in White Sox park, it is equal.
"White players in football do not get a first down by gaining eight yards," Jackson says, effortlessly switching sports, "while black players are forced to gain 12 yards. They each must gain 10 yards. The playing field is equal. You don't hear about affirmative action in sports, because the field is equal."
I can find nothing to argue with in anything Jackson is saying, and so I just nod and watch the White Sox strand a man on second and send the game into extra innings (where they will swiftly lose).
There is surreal quality to the press rooms in presidential debates. More than a thousand reporters have flown here at great expense to sit in a room and watch the debate on television.
They could have stayed home and watched the debate on television, or they could have stayed in their hotel rooms and watched the game on television -- but they have decided to shlep out to the University of Massachusetts in South Boston to watch the debate on television.
The excuse is that if we do not show up at the event, we will miss the "spin," almost all of which is worthless.
The forces of Al Gore had printed up elaborate signs with the names of their spinners on them -- senior campaign aides, elected officials and cabinet secretaries -- and the forces of George Bush had made similar signs for their spinners.
The sign carriers would stand by the spinners, so everybody would know who they are.
And guess what the spinners say? Well, the Gore spinners say Gore won the debatem and the Bush spinners say Bush won the debate.
And that's the reason we show up at these debates?
Me, I just go because I always have fun.
So, I say, to Jackson, got any spin for me?
Jackson doesn't hesitate.
"Bush's resume begins at age 45," Jackson says. "Everything before that was a youthful