Say what you will about MAYNARD JACKSON, but his political acumen and style far outweighed any other politician in the state, whether black or white, Dem or GOP. Many -- including those who despair at the African-American ascendancy in Atlanta -- want to damn Jackson with faint praise. In honeyed tones, they suggest that any memorial to Jackson be at parity with Ivan Allen, another great mayor who died within days of Jackson's death. Allen was a fine man and excellent mayor during a period of seismic shifts in Georgia's political landscape. But Jackson personified those seismic shifts when he became Atlanta's first black mayor, heralding a new chapter in politics and radically shifting the balance of race relations. Jackson was a giant, and even years after he left office, no Georgia politician's shadow is a fraction of that cast by the ex-mayor. Jackson achieved national stature, and had the Democrats selected him the party's chairman, the debacle of 2000 might not have occurred.