- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

Well, folks, the great equivocator is at it again. After playing hide-and-seek following the "humbling" disclosures earlier this year of his extramarital indiscretions, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is back in the spotlight. This latest chapter in the Jackson journals involves, of all people, the Taliban.

The Taliban, Mr. Jackson told supporters at a fund-raiser for his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition earlier this week, want his help. "I got a call today from the Taliban spokesman in Pakistan, offering me to lead a peace delegation to the country." That was on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Taliban sort of set the record straight. "We have not invited him," Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaheef told the Afghan Islamic Press, "but he offered to mediate and our leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has accepted this offer. He has ordered the authorities to extend cooperation if Jesse Jackson visits Afghanistan. We will have no objection."

Well, while the mullah might not object, the United States certainly does. In fact, the State Department has set all of them straight, saying the United States has "nothing to negotiate" with the Taliban and that Mr. Jackson "would not be carrying a message from the United States."

Of course, this left Mr. Jackson backpedaling all over Washington an undignified position indeed for a man of the cloth and certainly precarious for a man who likes to be in the middle of, well, precarious (and newsworthy) situations. (Or at least newsworthy situations that do not pertain to his private life.) "I was surprised that I heard from them," Mr. Jackson said Friday. "I really don't want to go" perhaps that latter comment to stir up chants of "Don't go, Jesse, don't go," as opposed to "Run, Jesse, run."

Mr. Jackson said his mission in Afghanistan would be to see "this situation resolved in a way that preserves the dignity and integrity of all sides."

"Situation?" "Dignity?" "Integrity?" Seems it really and truly hasn't sunk in yet for Mr. Jackson that America and the Taliban are not in a "situation," but on the verge of war. And that they are in this position because they have harbored and aided a man who thinks nothing of attacking innocent people in the name of his own demented ambitions. No one on that side of the equation has displayed anything resembling "dignity" or "integrity."

Besides, who does Mr. Jackson think he is? The one man who could understand the Taliban? Hardly likely.

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