Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is in denial. To be "in denial" means that a person can't see the obvious despite the evidence right before his or her eyes. In Kilpatrick's case it was last week's release of more scandalous text messages and his response to them that exhibits a distinct denial of the obvious. Then again, maybe I'm giving him too much credit. Could be he's just lying. Either way, the twists and turns of the case are wrapping tightly around the mayor, and he seems more and more like Gulliver being tied down by the Lilliputians.
Twist No. 1: Kilpatrick's emerging defense seems to revolve around the idea that there's no proof the text messages were actually written by him. Wait a minute ... didn't he go on television to apologize to his wife, God and the people of Detroit for — we assumed — having had an affair. If nothing else, the text messages show an ongoing romantic and sexual relationship between Kilpatrick and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty. But if the romantic messages were written by someone else, what was he apologizing about?
We're getting into Bill Clinton-like territory here. I know Kilpatrick never actually said the word "affair," but he did say something about breaking the rules of the same God that he says gave him his mission to lead Detroit. And he recently reiterated that in saying, "I am being punished by my God. I know that my disobedience put me in the situation I am in."
What disobedience is he talking about if the text messages aren't real? And what was it that his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, said that she was "hurt" about during his televised apology? It was all rather vague, but he did apologize for something, didn't he?
If someone did take the mayor's texting device and sent all those sexy messages, did that person slip it back to Kilpatrick for the things that refer to the actual work that he and Beatty were doing? And if someone snagged his text-messager, did someone else snag Beatty's? Or does this defense only go for Kilpatrick? Just like he got to keep his job and she didn't?
Twist No. 2: The mayor, who should know better, has been watching too many televised cop shows. When the latest text messages were released he said there was no "smoking gun" there. In real police work there is seldom a smoking gun. Cases are built around evidence that is pieced together to create a convincing argument. There were plenty of pieces of evidence in the messages to fill in parts of the puzzle — from the back channels used to undermine former Deputy Chief Gary Brown and the police internal affairs department to ever-more-clear indications that he lied under oath during a court proceeding.
And although there was no smoking gun, some of the things written in the messages were definitely smoking.
Twist No. 3: When Kilpatrick declared, "In the past 30 days I've been called a nigger more than any time in my entire life" at the end of his State of the City speech, it had to be a load of crap. Evidence from the texts reveal that he was quite at home with the term and used his own creative permutations of the N-word, including one ending in the Frenchified -ette. I think he's pretty familiar with the word and is used to tossing it around with his friends. Maybe he's just feeling the pain a little more since last summer, when he apparently saw the error of his ways and participated in an NAACP ceremony to bury the N-word.
"Today we're not just burying the N-word, we're taking it out of our spirit," Kilpatrick said. "Die, N-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."
It's back! And it's come back to bite Kilpatrick in some tender places. Maybe he meant only people who use it with -er at the end shouldn't say it. Or maybe it applied to everyone else but himself. That would fit his pattern of acting like other people have to follow the rules while he is exempt. That goes for the b-word too. He used it to refer to City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel after she contacted the federal Department of Justice about Brown's firing.
A few weeks back I wrote a column addressing what lines of work Kilpatrick might pursue if, for some odd reason, he found himself out of the mayoral office. I must admit that Kwame as Talk Show Host eluded me. But apparently the big guy is adding that experience to his résumé. Real Talk with Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick debuted Monday evening on Comcast. What a renaissance man our mayor is! Not only can he run a city as though it were business as usual — while clinging to office under the duress of preparing to defend himself on numerous felony charges — he can spread his charm far and wide via television. The show was taped a week earlier, so up-to-the-minute current affairs aren't its focus. But his choice of guests for the inaugural broadcast, Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers, gave a clue to the show's objective. Bully-Cummings, as evidenced in the most recently released text-messages, was involved in this business from the start when Brown was fired. And Conyers is the lone voice on City Council defending the mayor. The big news from Conyers the other night was that God wants her to be council's president pro tem and that Martha Reeves is one of the most forward-thinking, progressive members of council. ... Wow!
I can't wait to see who'll be on next week. Maybe Carlita and Kwame-mommy Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick will continue his line of women-who-will-do-anything-for-Kwame guest appearances. When he wants some real talk he should have radio host Mildred Gaddis on for a chat.
By the way, wasn't it slick how then-Assistant Chief Bully-Cummings undermined Police Chief Jerry Oliver and eliminated Deputy Chief Brown, ostensibly another power broker in the police rankings, in the same stroke? Sure Oliver served himself up by leaving a gun in his luggage, but I don't think Bully-Cummings would have been the one to say, "Hey chief, remember to take that gun out of your suitcase before you get to the airport."
And with the kind of support it looks like Oliver enjoyed back at the office, it's no wonder he resigned a week after the incident and Bully-Cummings rose to the top. It's not unusual for that kind of backstabbing to go on in any organization, but it is unusual to have naked evidence of how it went down made public. Beatty went around Oliver to his chief of staff, Shereece Fleming-Freeman, and Bully-Cummings to orchestrate Brown's firing. When it went down, Bully-Cummings text-messaged Beatty about Oliver: "He is livid! Will call you later this evening. He asked Shoulders [another deputy chief] and I if we had any discussion with you and whether we were involved"
In response to that question, Bully-Cummings lied to her boss and denied her involvement. So she's as deep into this as the rest of the rascals. Unless, of course, someone was also secretly using her text-messager without her knowledge.Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org