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Under increasing pressure from top Democrats to disclose what's kept Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. off the job for more than a month, the congressman's office issued a statement Wednesday saying he is being treated for a "mood disorder" at an inpatient center.
Even as Jackson's camp tried to tamp down widespread speculation — denying chatter that Jackson was being treated for alcohol or drug abuse — an array of questions was left unanswered. It remains unclear what specific psychiatric problem Jackson is being treated for, where he's being treated and when he'll get out.
In keeping with the secrecy that has surrounded Jackson since his medical leave from Congress was announced, the office's statement came from a doctor who went unnamed, citing health privacy reasons.
Don't know what 'mood disorder' means in this particular case; don't really think it's any of our business, either. I do note that Rep. Jackson's office wanted to be very clear that he was not being treated for substance abuse, which I think was what many of us assumed by the cryptic nature of the announcements. And it's not as if he's not facing enough stressors to topple even the most healthy person: he's currently under investigation for ethics violations for his role in the Blagojevich scandal and there's always the rumors of infidelity and how that plays with his family. But personal issues aside, illness is illness. Insofar as Jackson is concerned, I hope he is on the path to wellness and feels up to returning to his duties soon.
But what makes this newsworthy to me is more the oddly disloyal reaction of his fellow Democrats, like Dick Durbin and Steny Hoyer, demanding that a hospitalized colleague come forward and 'fess up his condition. Why? Where is the compassion? Where is the comity of fellow party members? When Mark Kirk suffered a stroke, he entered the hospital under an assumed name and hasn't appeared for a vote since January, something for which House leadership has been understanding. Republicans notoriously will circle the wagons and protect their own, even in the case of clear wrongdoing (I'm looking at you, David Vitter and Dick Cheney), but Democrats will discard their own like a used tissue even in a case where it's a treatable medical condition.