Will the Jacksons get a slap on the wrist, or will their heads be mounted?

"In cases of vehicular manslaughter where lives are lost to a drunk driver, is that driver's disease (alcoholism) used as a mitigating factor and as an excuse to reduce his sentence? I think we all know the answer."

The answer, of course, is no.

But that hasn't stopped the Jackson camp. And the way they've spun this out, cynically, expertly, he's not a crooked weasel. Instead, he's a sympathetic victim who would be too stressed to serve serious time.

And what's Sandi's excuse?

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She's not bipolar. But she spent the money along with him. If she really hated the elk heads, she had her chance years ago to do something about it.

Those of you who've paid attention to other corruption trials can figure the liturgy that's likely to be sung in the Washington courtroom on Wednesday.

Jackson may beg mercy, perhaps even weep, although grasping the judge's knees might be overdoing it. First, though, tearful letters of sympathy may be read aloud.

For crooked politicians, the letters of lament are depressingly similar. They're always about the many kindnesses shown by the politician to various little guys.

The Reverend might like to speak as well, because he always has something to say, but that's not likely Wednesday — not in court at least.

Most Chicagoans, I think, aren't interested in separating the father from the son. Most of the public's animosity leveled at Junior is actually meant for the father.

The old man spent a lifetime talking and talking, raging and rhyming, hustling guilt and fear and using it to leverage a nice career and plenty of money.

He spent decades playing the race card, passing judgment from a pulpit built for him by a media once terrified of him. He is a creature of the media.

And perhaps there is nothing so malleable as white reporters fearful they could be denounced as racists.

So by some silent, unwritten contract, the Rev became the arbiter of race. All reporters had to do was put a microphone near his mouth. And he did the rest.

Like leveraging a congressional seat for one son, and a Budweiser distributorship for another after leading a national black boycott against Anheuser-Busch.

The Bud business exposed him, finally, and the threat that Jackson could play the race card had lost its sting. He inched from fearsome to caricature.

Then, a few years ago, the Jacksons were completely eclipsed by Obama.

Now it appears the Reverend is ready to embrace Paula Deen, as if to heal her of a confessed racist past. He should heal her in New York, after teaching her what he used to call that town.

In their beginning, the Jacksons were only about talk. In their end, they are still only about talk.

And talk gets old, like stupid stuffed elk heads on the wall.


Twitter @John_Kass