Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young yesterday described the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's possible presidential candidacy as a symbolic effort that falsely raises blacks' hopes.
"I don't see any way Jesse can get through the primary process and be available to transfer the enthusiasm for him to somebody else between July and November 1984 ," Young said.
Young, appearing on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM), said Jackson, who is director of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), has made "an enormous psychological impact" with his efforts to gain support for a black candidacy.
But Young said he is not in the delicate political situation of crushing the hopes of Jackson's supporters.
"I don't think so, because I think that it's better that they get let down now than in July," he said, adding that there is nothing new about a black candidate for president.
"I mean, Shirley Chisholm did that 10 years ago," he said. "Dick Gregory has run. Eldridge Cleaver has run. None of these candidacies has produced anything significant for black Americans."
While Jackson's effort has made an impact, " . . . down South people have not gone for symbolic politics."
Still, he said, "I think that Jesse Jackson has a lot more experience in the problems affecting this nation and this world than at least half of the other candidates running, particularly the guy that's in the White House.
"But the one thing that Jesse does not have that I think mitigates against his presidency is, he has not been able to have this rainbow coalition that he talks about because everybody talks about his candidacy as a black candidacy.
"If people had talked about John Kennedy's candidacy as a Catholic candidacy, it would have put the kiss of death on it so soon that it never would have gone anywhere.
"I think what we have to do in the Democratic Party, hopefully, is to go into the convention with a kind of a consensus candidate," he said.
Young called Jackson's speech at Saturday's commemorative civil rights march here "very eloquent" and reiterated Jackson's point that it is crucial for blacks to register and vote. Young noted that there are 180 congressional districts in which the black vote can make the difference between winning and losing.
"If you can excite the black vote in 180 congressional districts, and that Democrat or Republican gets 10 percent increase in turnout, he gets elected," he said.