Now that former Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick is just that--the hardscrabble city's former chief executive--the line to take pot shots at him is much longer, as the "I told you so" folks race to find their place in line.
Depending on your politics and perspective, if there ever was a time to kick a dog when he's down, it's now, as Kilpatrick might be headed to hell on scholarship. However, his supporters, ostensibly including his wife, Carlita, have another opinion about the former college football player who still looks to be in good enough shape to sack an NFL quarterback.
It would be a huge challenge, on the other hand, for me to elbow my way into that line because for all of my adult life, I have respected and appreciated the weakness of the flesh. I have a healthy understanding of people's failings and why we often do what we do. Starting with my own long list of misjudgments and errors, being human makes it easy for us to do the wrong thing for the right reason and the right thing for the wrong reason. Therefore, to hear that the mayor finally saw the light of day and pleaded guilty imbued me with a new respect for the "hip-hop mayor" who once had it all.
Having it all also means carrying the weight of your world on your shoulders, being tempted by temptation and having to make decisions that will divide people, among other responsibilities and obligations. But those high-level charges and tough decisions are clearly listed in the memo when people self-filet and decide to run for public office.
All of that said, I empathize with the once-charismatic mayor of the nation's 11th-largest city whose countenance now resembles that of a forlorn man who has lost his best friends, his dog and his job. If you've been entangled in a series of (self-imposed) legal, marital, career and moral quandaries for an extended period of time, would you be dancing the happy dance?
The 38-year-old Kilpatrick has to believe there's light at the end of his tunnel, and that it's not an Amtrak locomotive heading through his beloved Detroit on its way to Canada. Put yourself in his shoes: Having been plagued by a (self-imposed) salacious sex scandal since the beginning of the year, having expended energy to keep his job while fighting off prosecutors, the threat of dismissal by the governor, attempts to dump him by fellow council members, the ikely incessant haranguing by his wife, who has to be as tired as a recaptured slave as she deals with all of the drama he brought home, being busted for the back-end deal that allowed him to settle lawsuits and spend $8.4 million of his constituents' money to silence three police officers who could cold bust him for having an affair with Christine Beatty, his chief of staff whose marriage disintegrated once she was busted, too ... Don't you think Kilpatrick is embattled?
Add in that his transgressions prompted Detroit's police chief, Ella M. Bully-Cummings, whom Kilpatrick appointed, to also tender her resignation.
Having descended to such personal and professional lows, Kilpatrick has to believe the only way to go is up ... even after pleading guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice charges, agreeing to resign, paying $1 million restitution to Detroit over a five-year probationary period, relinquishing his law license, forfeiting his state pension and serving 120 days in the Wayne County Jail.
At least all of the other charges, including allegations of perjury and assault, were dismissed. At least.
I feel for him, although he clearly fell on his own sword. And there isn't a physician or image-maker around who will be able to rehab his image in the near future, now that he's impaled himself big time ... except for the authors of a new study that reveals that a man's tendency to be unfaithful may be influenced by his genes.
According to the study, men who inherit a genetic variant that affects an important attachment hormone are more likely than usual to have weaker relationships and marital discord and are less likely to be married. Their wives and girlfriends are also more likely to be less satisfied with them as partners. The obviously controversial study didn't directly examine infidelity, but the findings suggest that male monogamy might also be influenced by variations in a single gene.
There it is.
Once Kilpatrick begins to strategically reintroduce himself to the mainstream, he should issue a heartfelt mea culpa and blame his extramarital affair and poor decision making on his genetic makeup.
What better way for the sartorially splendid ex-mayor to explain how power broke his moral compass and commitment to family and the voters than to blame it on his jeans and his genes?