Congress Disses Michael Jackson, Lets Elvis Slide!

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee resolution securing permanent praise of dead pop star shot down by Nancy Pelosi. So why did Elvis, Sinatra and Johnny Cash get off so easy?

By Leslie Gornstein Jul 10, 2009 7:48 PMTags
Nancy Pelosi, Michael JacksonKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images, Telegraph UK/ ZUMA Press

Why won't Congress honor Michael Jackson with that resolution? He's the greatest of all time!

Don't forget the national day of mourning and the postage stamp, right, Al Sharpton?

You've obviously wrapped your righteous outrage around this news: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee wants a congressional resolution securing permanent praise of M.J.—and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pronounced no need for one.

At first, a 1,500-word resolution highlighting, among other things, Jackson's provision of 200 turkey dinners to poor Los Angeles families, may seem a wee tad overweening. Especially given that for every M.J. fan there's a guy like Rep. Peter King, who has called the late star a "pervert."

Then again, Congress has honored other figures sporting their share of major flaws, and nobody is saying much about those anymore...

Take Elvis Presley, whose sexy moves were once seen as so perverted that the FBI had a file declaring him a "definite danger to the security of the United States." A Florida judge once called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he performed in Jacksonville—and of course, like Jackson, Presley battled with prescription drugs.

Also like Jackson, Presley faced accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with minors—in Presley's case, future wife Priscilla. One biographer contends the two slept together on their second date, when Priscilla was 14, though Priscilla herself has disputed that account.

Nonetheless, Presley was later honored by the Congress, albeit indirectly, via postage stamp and a Senate-based resolution congratulating Graceland on its elevation to historical status.

Other stars have also gotten the resolution treatment. The Senate created Louis Armstrong Day in August 2001. Johnny Cash, who also had infamous trouble with drugs, was honored by the Senate with a resolution in his honor. Frank Sinatra got a posthumous Frank Sinatra Day in 2008. The FBI spied on Sinatra throughout much of his life thanks to the singer's well-known ties with the Mob; he also got a Congressional Gold Medal, along with Bob Hope.

Have to go. Designing my own Answer B!tch postage stamp in my honor. So much little space...

—Additional reporting by Lindsay Ambrose