This post brought to you by the Friends of Kwame Legal Defense Fund.
During his second term as president, Bill Clinton was impeached for getting a blow job. Oh, sure, technically he was impeached for committing perjury, but anyone with half a brain will tell you that he was impeached for getting a blow job. Perhaps it would’ve been better if Clinton had been removed from office, because if we have to change presidents because of a blow job, Al Qaeda might’ve said, “You know what, we’re not too different, maybe we won’t fly these planes into those buildings.”
The reason I bring this up is because Kwame Kilpatrick just went to jail for banging his chief of staff. The Clinton story was kind of a big deal. You would think he would’ve learned.
Let’s recap (and some of the details may be off, but I’m not looking it up, so deal):
Shortly after Kilpatrick became America’s “Hip-Hop Mayor”, he (allegedly) had a party at the mayoral mansion, with several strippers in attendance. His wife (allegedly) caught Kwame with one of the strippers; said stripper then wound up (not allegedly) dead. A couple of Detroit cops started investigating and wound up fired. They sued, and Kilpatrick illegally authorized a $9 million payout. When the city started looking into this payout, Kilpatrick stated under oath that he was not having a relationship with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty.
Only problem was that Beatty and Kilpatrick had been exchanging rather illicit text messages. On their city-owned cell phones. The Detroit Free Press managed to track down those text messages (you know, because they were city-owned and there’s this thing called the “Freedom of Information Act”), and the shit hit the fan. Kwame was charged with perjury (where have we seen this before?), among other things; he refused to cop a plea (mostly because every plea bargain would require his resignation) until it became apparent that the governor was going to remove him from office.
So Kwame does 120 days in jail (incidentally, right next door to my buddies’ favorite tailgate spot), agrees not to run for public office for 5 years, and has to pay $1 million in restitution to the city on an agreed upon schedule. Sounds pretty easy right? I mean, sure, he’s a criminal, but he’s also the former mayor of a major U.S. city. He’ll be able to land a cushy job when he gets out.
Sure enough, when he walked out of jail, he had a job with Compuware, as well as some pretty massive loans from some of Detroit’s most well-known businessmen. He went to an upscale Dallas neighborhood, put his kids in private schools, bought his wife some plastic surgery (probably got off light, since Kobe had to buy his wife a $4 million ring, although I’m not sure plastic surgery is a great, “Hey, sorry I banged someone else” gift), and was driving around town in a Cadillac Escalade. When it came time to make one of his restitution payments he sent in $6 and said that was all he could afford.
Today, the other shoe dropped.
It was a big day in Detroit. Michigan’s football program announced the sanctions it would impose upon itself for practicing too much (these sanctions will become the new poster children for “toothless self-imposed punishment”). Steve Yzerman left the Red Wings after 27-years with the franchise to become the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning (good luck, Stevie Y!). U2 postponed it’s entire North American tour – including a stop at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. But shoving all of those to the back pages was the fact that Kwame Kilpatrick was finally going to prison.
Big people prison. With prison bitches and everything. Don’t drop the soap Kwame.
Throughout this whole process it became clear that Kwame was an arrogant asshole (although the fact that he’s a professional politician pretty much requires him to be an arrogant asshole). But the restitution thing took it to a whole ‘nother level. This was, “Please let someone shoot him on the courthouse steps.” This was Al Sharpton saying, “Uh, yeah, that guy’s on his own.” This was Kwame clearly defining his position in Chris Rock’s famous “Black People vs. N___ers” debate (yeah, I said it).
Most of the time rich and/or powerful criminals manage to buy their way out of prison time. Not Kwame. He stood there with his riches, told the media that the power of God would keep him and his wife together, said he wanted to be a good father to his children, and told the people of Detroit to move on.
Hey Kwame: Fuck you.
As a final slap in the face, a spokesman for Kilpatrick put out a statement comparing his treatment to apartheid and saying that it was the whites of the suburbs behind his treatment, as the blacks in the city were still behind you. Sorry Kwame, but if they’re behind you they’re a way back. A long way back. Like in the suburbs with the whites.
If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are nowhere to be seen, it’s definitely not a race issue (hell, half the time they show up it’s still not a race issue).
There’s a thought that now that we’ve got a black president, the racial issue is over (I know this because I’ve got friends who believe this). Let’s not kid ourselves. Obama’s as black as Tiger Woods is and we’ve still got plenty of racial problems in this country. But a corrupt politician being thrown in jail for, well, being corrupt, is not a race issue. It’s a “You’re a corrupt asshole who thumbed his nose at the city” issue.
To a small extent I’ve never been more proud of Detroit than I was today, and maybe in saying that I expect a lot less of people than I should. If Kilpatrick had the support he claims to, a decision like we saw today could lead to protests, riots, looting, death. We saw none of that. We saw that the people who you claimed were standing behind you were just as tired of your shit as the suburbanites you compare to the South African racists from the days of apartheid (that Kilpatrick implied that the suburban population was racist is no real surprise; he did so at a rally after the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008).
Detroit’s got a lot of shit to deal with. It’s out of money, houses can be had for $1, unemployment is around 25% and a 7-year-old girl was just killed when she was shot in the face during a police raid that A&E was filming. But there was always Kwame. And now he’s gone.