If you're among the many critics of Sarah Palin, the news of her recent rambling speech in Iowa and the conservative fallout around it won't be that surprising. Still, it reminds me on a smaller scale of the similar sort of "fading star" treatment the Rev. Jesse Jackson got from Democratic Party leaders after his presidential runs were all done and nobody seemed to know what a Jesse Jackson should be doing if not running for president.
Many wanted him to run for mayor of Washington, D.C., which at the time was still struggling with longtime mayor Marion Barry's much-documented troubles with cocaine and extramarital affairs. But in 1989, as a potential Jackson mayoral bid loomed, the always-quotable Barry issued perhaps the most stinging zinger ever landed against the civil rights icon when he told a reporter: "Jesse don't wanna run nothin but his mouth."
Jackson's influence slipped further in 2001 with news that he'd fathered a child by a woman with whom he'd had an extramarital affair. He has since watched the younger Rev. Al Sharpton slip past him to become today's arguably most prominent civil rights activist, with a talk show on MSNBC and his own national organization.
It appears conservatives have a similar back-seat role in mind for Sarah Palin. With the exception of his much-publicized crude remark against then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, Jackson seems to have taken it with quiet grace. It remains to be seen if Sarah Palin is willing to go as gently into that good night.