All anyone can talk about here on Capitol Hill is Jesse Jackson. Is he an addict? Is he sick? Is he hiding from an indictment? Is something else going on?

And nothing from the Congressman, nothing but denials from his office, and the constant swirl of media speculation. Based on what we know, what can we infer about what’s going on behind closed doors? Why won’t his staff speak up and put to rest some of the mad speculation?

It’s cringe-worthy, to my mind, but at the same time it’s train-wreck fascinating.

The anatomy of a scandal is always the same. Denials, then vaguely worded hedges, then  a tearful confession with a pledge to keep fighting for one’s constituents, and then the resignation, if it comes, because you don’t want to “distract from the very real problems this country has to face.” Not all the steps are reached in all cases, but that’s inevitably the order. With Jackson, we’re somewhere between Step One and Step Two. The press conference will be next, mark my words.

Part of the reason I wrote Inside the Beltway was to turn that on its head. Davis Hudson is faced with a very similar problem, and his staff scrambles to find a way to respond, knowing that every second they don’t come out with a story, the media will be spinning its own tales of what could possibly be going on. But Davis doesn’t want to deny, or confess, anything. Not when he feels he hasn’t done anything wrong. Politically unsustainable, maybe, but not wrong.

What’s a congressman or senator to do? And what responsibility does the media have, when seeking the truth collides with possible character assassination?

Inside the Beltway