Jail Today - Congress Tomorrow
There's not much humor in Motown these days ...
Dressed in a dark suit (no stripes at this point) and a liberal blue tie, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick entered the courtroom yesterday afternoon, as confident as ever. The 38-year-old Kilpatrick grinned, almost defiantly, as he embraced friends and family members, including his father Bernard, his sister Ayanna, and his aunt Marsha Cheeks, a state representative from Detroit. He sat between his wife Carlita and his preacher, Drew Sheard, as the proceedings that would send him away to jail for 120 days began.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner did not hold back in expressing feelings shared by the majority of the hard working citizens of this troubled city. "You were sometimes arrogant and often accusatory," said Groner referring to Kilpatrick's original denials he did anything wrong when he encouraged the city to accept a costly wrongful dismissal payout. "The legal settlement ultimately cost the people of Detroit $8.4 million ... all in an attempt to protect your political career. You exhibited hubris and privilege at the expense of the city."
Kilpatrick will spend four months in jail as part of a plea deal he accepted back in September in which he plead guilty to two felonies and no contest to a felony assault charge. Kilpatrick denied under oath having an affair with his then chief of staff Christine Beatty, though text messages on city-owned pagers ... some of which have since been publicly released ... indicate they were romantically involved. The wrongful dismissal suit was brought by three city police officers who were looking into the affair.
As much as Detroiters are relieved to be rid of their lubricious, dissembling mayor, Barack Obama has to be even more relieved, as traces and links to radicalism and corruption continue to follow him out of the past.
In 2008, with the economy in recession ... in free fall for Governor Granholm's Michigan ... this bluish-purple state, which hasn't gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, should be Obama's for the taking. With Kilpatrick's misbehavior dominating the local news on every TV station in a metro area that holds nearly half Michigan's population, he's barely leading: A recent Detroit News poll has him beating McCain 46-43.
Ever since the 1967 riot sent hundreds of thousands of whites in a great migration across 8 Mile Road ... the city limit, and the symbolic border between black and white Detroit ... the city and its suburbs have coexisted as uncomfortably as Soweto and Johannesburg.
It was pollster Stanley Greenberg who discovered Detroit's white exiles resettled, but still seething, in Macomb County, and gave them the Linnaean name "Reagan Democrats." The original Reagan Democrat, circa 1980, was a blue-collar voter who abandoned his native party over antiwar protests, busing, affirmative action and welfare queens. Some Reagan Democrats were from an Appalachian background, their forebears having moved north for auto factory jobs. Many were ethnics, white Catholics whose ancestors had come to America long after slavery was abolished. Neither strain had much patience with white guilt, many were stung by Michigan's industrial implosion, as those factory jobs disappeared, and all were outraged by a court decision ordering cross-district busing to integrate their children's schools. (It was overturned by the Supreme Court.) They were also horrified at Detroit's transformation into the original New Jack City. Thanks to drug outfits like the Chambers Brothers and Young Boys Inc., the city had the highest murder rate in the nation.
During Greenberg's first trip to Macomb County, at the height of the Reagan years, he found that whites "expressed a profound distaste for black America, a sentiment that pervaded almost everything they thought about government and politics. Blacks constituted the explanation for their vulnerability and for almost everything that had gone wrong in their lives." And now, for the last eight months, the local news emanating every day from this black city to its white suburbs has featured the legal, sexual and administrative misadventures of a black mayor who doesn't just play the race card, he is the race card.
Kilpatrick is an odious politician, but he's only a symptom of Detroit's problems ... a monster created by the racial estrangement between urban blacks and suburban whites. Kilpatrick kept himself in office by exploiting Detroit's tensions, cleverly maneuvering on a political landscape that was in place before he was born. After the scandal broke, Kilpatrick used his final State of the City address to drop the N-bomb. "In the past thirty days, I've been called a n****r more than any time in my entire life," he claimed. It didn't work. The City Council asked him to resign.
Kilpatrick refused to go, so the council asked Gov. Jennifer Granholm to step in. As governor, Granholm has the power to remove shady officials from their posts. As a white Democrat, Granholm was reluctant to yank the black mayor of a city whose voters provide her party's margin of victory. But she was even more reluctant to allow Kilpatrick's shenanigans to inflict more bruises on downtrodden Detroit ... and possibly scuttle Obama's campaign in Michigan.
But even as Kilpatrick wakes up this morning, in a cell that was once occupied by Doctor Death himself, the rumor is that in a few years after he is released from prison, Kilpatrick will find new life and run for his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick's Congressional seat. It appears that the Nation of Islam is preparing to back one of its future stars in Congress, who will probably follow in his mother's corrupt footsteps of being one of the most anti-Israel, anti-American, and anti-Semitic Members of Congress. This rumor stems from the prominent courtside appearance by Rasul Muhammad, the son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and a devout Muslim.
Never mind the past, former associates and ties to radicalism ... in the words of Barack Obama, all Kilpatrick need do is focus on "change."