Haters Didn’t Hurt the Hip-Hop Mayor, He Did, by Tara Setmayer

setmayer_smI wonder if any of the 60 Detroit pastors supporting embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are reminding him of this Biblical principle?  As the drama unfolds in Detroit, it makes me wonder about public integrity.  Are our leaders so drunk with power that honesty, character and respect for their offices and the people they represent now secondary nuisances?

From Marion Barry to Eliot Spitzer and Richard Nixon to Mark Foley, character and integrity – or the lack thereof – know no party affiliation or skin color.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, “King Kwame” or the “Hip-Hop Mayor” to some, is yet another example of a politician drowning in his own narcissistic sense of infallibility.  The opportunity to earn the public trust is a privilege, and politicians often forget who they are working for. 

Anyone aware of Mayor Kirkpatrick’s tenure shouldn’t be surprised.  Arrogance and a sense of entitlement are a recipe for disaster, especially when the resources of an entire city are at one’s disposal and “yes men” who occupy high-ranking city positions act as enablers.

Mayor Kilpatrick’s supporters claim he’s done wonders for the city’s economic development – helping rebuild the downtown and creating jobs.  To summarize a point famously made by comedian Chris Rock, I’m not going to praise him for something he is supposed to do.  Are we supposed to excuse away despicable, and now apparently illegal, antics because he’s done what is expected of him?

In that vein, should drug dealers not be arrested as long as they build playgrounds, hand out turkeys and donate money to the local community center?  This warped sense of self allows a corrupted sense of right and wrong to perpetuate the dismissal of personal responsibility and the consequences that accompany it.

Those pastors supporting Mayor Kilpatrick claim to support the person and not the mistakes he made.  That’s a good thing, considering that the litany of mistakes King Kwame has made as both a public servant and a father and husband is quite long – beginning with perjury and obstruction of justice and ending with adultery.

Although one pastor claimed the Mayor seemed “contrite” when they prayed for him in the moments before his arraignment, the smirk in his mug shot tells me something different.  It looks like humility needs to be added to those prayers, between forgiveness and repentance.

Race-baiting and defiant – and blaming everyone from the “haters” to the media for his troubles – Mayor Kilpatrick’s behavior is not that of a contrite man whose self-inflicted downfall brings a cloud of shame and humiliation not only to himself and his family but also the people of Detroit.  “Haters” didn’t write over 14,000 text messages, including sexually explicit missives, to his city-employed paramour.  Nor did “haters” decide to inappropriately fire Officer Gary Brown because he was investigating suspected misconduct on behalf of the Mayor’s personal security team and an alleged (but never proven) stripper party at the city-financed Manoogian Mansion residence.  And “haters” didn’t make anyone allegedly lie under oath to hide misconduct.

I’m sick and tired of people saying the very serious felony charges are the product of an overambitious prosecutor’s witch-hunt over a sexual affair.  Let’s not forget that Mayor Kilpatrick not only took an oath to uphold his office with honor, but another to honor his marriage.  He has apparently failed miserably at both and has only himself to blame.

We all make mistakes, but part of learning from those mistakes is accepting responsibility for them.  This often requires paying a heavy price.

No one is above the law.  Not even Mayor Kilpatrick.  Not even in Detroit.  No matter how large the entourage, how luxurious the vehicle or how flamboyant his clothing, he is still a public servant accountable to the people of Detroit.

If the Hip-Hop Mayor wants to live the lifestyle of a 50 Cent, he needs to relinquish his public office and become a member of G-Unit on his own time – not on the taxpayers’ dime.

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Tara Setmayer is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network and the communications director for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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