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Paul Hayden

His Arrogance, not His Honor

March 31, 2008

There are times when something makes you so angry that you have no choice but to write about it. This is one of those times.

As the saga of felony-indicted Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit continues, it comes as no surprise that he's utterly unwilling to even consider resigning for the good of the city and the surrounding, economically depressed region. But what has now added insult to injury is that some of Kilpatrick's well-heeled friends have "stepped up" to establish a defense fund for the embattled and indefensible mayor. This includes helping to buy the services of Kilpatrick's high-powered attorney at $750.00 per hour.

The number of business people and clergy in the Detroit area and beyond who have come forward to help this utterly corrupt man is, frankly, sickening as well as surprising. While they give Kilpatrick kudos for "rejuvenating" the city, it was former Mayor Dennis Archer who played a key role in bringing three casinos to downtown, new stadiums for the baseball and football teams, the Major League All-Star baseball game as well as the Super Bowl. It was on this foundation that Kwame Kilpatrick took over. The continued buildup in downtown Detroit was not only inevitable, it's still a far cry from what is needed for a true comeback.

Have we, as communities, cities, states and a nation, become so cynically jaded that we don't even bat an eye at such sellout behavior? That when the local prosecutor presented the charges against Kilpatrick, in a calm, straightforward and convincing manner, the supporters continued to circle the wagons? Yet, despite eight felony charges against Kilpatrick and mounds of indisputable evidence, Kilpatrick's sycophants have reinforced his self-assessment that he is absolutely indispensable and irreplaceable. Can you imagine a Republican office-holder anywhere in this country, at any level, being indicted on one felony let alone eight counts, and surviving more than a day or two in office?

No matter what is perceived about Kilpatrick's so-called ability to revive Detroit's economic fortunes, he is first, last and always a liberal. When are these business people going to un-stick themselves from stupid long enough to grasp the concept that liberals are not in their corner? Kilpatrick has been using them to prop up his shaky administration for years, and now, instead of a light bulb going on (maybe a bad analogy since they're illegal in a few years), the used are allowing themselves to be used still further. In so doing, they enable the already chest-thumping Kilpatrick to remain unbowed, unremorseful and defiant. So do the pastors who so shamelessly continue to shill for this man instead of calling him on his misdeeds.

If Detroit's default mode is to be governed by a black Democrat, then there are still plenty of candidates who rate far higher on the character and competence meters than Kilpatrick ever will. This isn't about race, except to the extent that Kilpatrick tries to make it so. To demonstrate how arrogance, not race, is the real issue here, we need look no further than one Peter Edward Rose.

If anyone reminds me of Kilpatrick's stubborn insistence that no one can do the job like he can, it's the former Cincinnati Reds player/manager and all-time base hits leader. When Rose's gambling problems came to light in early 1989, he played the same denial and stonewall game as Kilpatrick. And Rose played it this way because, in his mind, he was the Reds' manager for as long as he wanted to be; for life ideally. Why, no one could replace the great Hall-of-Fame bound Charlie Hustle, could they? Turns out that they could-with Lou Piniella at the helm in 1990, the Reds were World Series champions. However, this was possible only because Rose was forced out by his banishment from the game; he never would have left of his own volition. And neither will Kwame Kilpatrick. Like his role model, Bill Clinton, he will relinquish office only when he is dragged out by force on the way to prison. It never came to that for Clinton; we can only hope that it will for Kilpatrick, if that is what it takes for him to go.

I'm tired of hearing people say that Detroit deserves better than the pair of black eyes that it has. No, it does not deserve better, as long as at least half the voting population believes that this utterly corrupt, adolescent mayor should stay "on the job," thus enabling him to continue his campaign of victimhood and the arrogant insistence that he's indispensable to the city's fortunes and future.

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Copyright ©2008 Phil Perkins