Michael Jackson, Thrill of the Hill
By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 31, 2004; Page C01
He was wearing a lovely shade of coral lipstick.
Forget yesterday's other tiny news: the White House announcing something about Condoleezza Rice finally being allowed to testify in public on a matter of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Forget the votes in Congress, and the deficit, and the chaos in the Middle East.
Michael Jackson is in the Rayburn House Office Building. Which is why a gaggle of media types are camped outside the offices of Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) waiting, and waiting. Because Jackson is in town, and well, this is what you do if you're the press and Mr. Jackson comes to Washington. You wait for him. Because, well, you never know. And because you might, just possibly, be able to say: Hey! He was wearing coral lipstick. Good color for his, uh, complexion.
But he's not here to talk about his lipstick or those pesky criminal charges and the grand jury that is supposedly meeting on the other side of the country. Jackson is in Washington to talk about serious things: AIDS in Africa, his own years of philanthropy and good works. Today he's scheduled to meet with African ambassadors. Tomorrow he'll receive an award. He mentions some of these things in his "STATEMENT OF RECORDING SUPERSTAR MICHAEL JACKSON ON CAPITOL HILL," distributed by his people.
"I am in town this week because I am being honored by the African Ambassadors' Spouses Association," the statement continues. "While I am more humbled by this honor, it is more important to me to help raise awareness of what is going on in our sister continent . . . Africa; . . . and to help them rid their countries of some of these problems . . . whatever I can do to assist you in your fight, I will do so."
To further the fight, he's here to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Okay, they're all kind of busy because they've got a bunch of votes to cast -- there goes that darned bell again! -- so Michael waits in a holding room as the good congresspeople go skedaddling out of Fattah's office. "There will be no official meeting with the CBC as a collective because, as Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) says, "This is still Congress." And folks are just busy.
Finally, nearly an hour and a half after his appointed meeting time, Jackson is swept into Fattah's office. He's sporting a smoothly brushed pageboy, aviator shades, red armband, black suit. Escorted, of course, by a contingent of important-looking people wearing very important and serious expressions.
He does, however, look up, and waves to the cameras. Flashes the peace sign. And then he disappears.
He meets with assorted members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush, Danny Davis, Sheila Jackson Lee and John Lewis.
It was, as Lewis says later, "nothing heavy, just a meet-and-greet."
But in the meantime, we wait.
And while we wait, we try to figure out which door he'll use to make his getaway.
Backbones start to slip. Feet start to ache. Someone says that no one cares about Michael Jackson anymore and therefore we should all just go home.
Everyone agrees heartily. Yes, this is hell. Yes, let's all go home.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Surrounded by his entourage, Michael Jackson zips out of Rep. Chaka Fattah's office yesterday in the Rayburn House Office Building.
(Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)
Video: The Post's Teresa Wilz discusses Michael Jackson's visit to Washington.