Jesse Jackson, Jr. is in rehab in Arizona. For a "mood disorder"! I know a lot of people that have a mood disorder ever since Obama was elected. He has been "on leave" for a month, which means he is getting full pay and his constituents back in Chicago are getting no representation.
"The congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery."
-Statement from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s staff, attributed to an unidentified physician.
This isn't going to wash. The Chicago Tribune editorializes:
More than a month after he cast his last vote on Capitol Hill, we still don't know what's ailing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
His family is keeping quiet. His colleagues are bewildered. His whereabouts are a closely held secret. And Wednesday evening's vague statement from an anonymous doctor at an unnamed medical institution was just bizarre.
"Information regarding the congressman's treatment is protected by federal law under the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ('HIPPA')," the statement says.
Wait just a minute. Those records are indeed private under federal law. But the law does not prohibit Jackson from sharing information about his illness with his constituents. It's past time he did.
The most troubling aspect of this vague "medical leave" is that it masks the Congressman from dealing with the scandals dogging him, listed by the Trib near the end of its lengthy and informative editorial:
Jackson, though, has a disturbing tendency to disappear when the pressure is on. And yes, there's been a lot of pressure lately: disclosure of his extra-marital affair, questions about his ties to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a House ethics probe into his role in Blagojevich's attempt to sell a U.S. Senate seat in 2008. Jackson hasn't been charged with a crime and denies any involvement in that deal, but a former friend who says otherwise was arrested last month on federal fraud charges.
Jackson is, of course, a member of the same Chicago political machine that brought us Barack Obama. We don't know what kind of information has been developed about the Congressman in the ongoing official investigations, and who else might be involved. It could well be that the congressman is under the sort of pressure few of us can imagine. I'd be in a crappy mood, too.