Insanity Fair 

Thaddeus McCotter flies the coop — and flips his constituents the bird

Former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter is a selfish, egocentric jackass. Want proof? Last week he abruptly quit, with six months left to go on his congressional term.

True, the Livonia Republican had already managed to destroy his political future, all by himself, and without stealing any money or any sex scandals. Two months ago, everybody expected him to be easily re-elected to his suburban seat in Congress. All he had to do was turn in 1,000 valid signatures on petitions. But to everyone's shock, nearly every signature was invalid, most evidently photocopied and cut-and-pasted from some earlier campaign. Besides disqualifying him from the ballot, this is, by the way, an apparent violation of election law.

At first, McCotter said he would run a write-in campaign. That would have taken a lot of hard work, however, and after a couple days, he gave it up. Then last week, he announced abruptly that he was quitting, right then, walking off the job. Why? Well, apparently having ruined himself was too stressful to bear.

"My future is a dimming light in a dark pit," he told The Detroit News. Most others couldn't see any light. McCotter's political suicide started more than a year ago when he bizarrely decided to run for president, for reasons known only to himself and the fillings in his teeth. He had no money, no support, and no real issues. His high-water mark came at something called the Ames Straw Poll last summer. Nearly 17,000 Iowans voted, and McCotter got ... 35 votes. That works out to one out of every 500 cast. Even Lassie probably would have done better, but the TV collie unfortunately is dead. So was McCotter's campaign, as even he soon realized.

Humiliated, and deflated further when Fox News failed to offer him a talk show, the Livonia sensation took to writing a proposed TV show in his garage, to be called Bumper Sticker: Made on MoTown.

According to those who've read it, it stars him (big surprise!) and includes "banter" about "drinking, sex, race, flatulence and puking." And, oh, yes, women's body parts, and a sexually perverted "black Santa." Would you be surprised to know that it drew even less interest than his presidential campaign?

By the way, I am taking the ex-congressman at his word when he claims to have written it in the garage at night while chain-smoking, to help get over his presidential campaign. The former staffer who released it to the media indicated, however, that McCotter wrote the pilot instead of attending to his congressional duties.

Or making sure he got enough signatures to get on the ballot, evidently. But this bizarre behavior is not the real reason I began this column by calling McCotter a selfish, egocentric jerk. Actually, he went off the charts on the assholeometer by resigning from Congress. That leaves the 700,000-plus people he swore to represent without any congressman for the next six months.

That is, unless Gov. Rick Snyder decides to hold a special election. But doing so wouldn't make much sense. It would take weeks, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and produce a congressman whose very district would soon be completely transformed, thanks to new redistricting boundaries, in January.

Congressmen, by the way, do a lot more than cast votes. They get kids into military schools, help constituents with easily solved grievances against the federal government, have their staffs trace down lost Social Security checks, and perform other services.

Two years ago, McCotter promised the people he represented that if they re-elected him, he would keep doing that until January 2013. Now, he has, in essence, given his voters a big Fuck You.

After resigning, the ex-congressman whined, "I'm finished, I'm done." We can only hope so. The press traditionally has been too kind to McCotter — probably because, despite being a right-wing Republican, he likes to play guitar in a rock band and spout Bob Dylan quotes.

But so what? Fifty years ago, a drunken, snarling Richard Nixon bowed out of politics in his "last press conference" after losing the governorship of California. Watching the spectacle, President John F. Kennedy said, "He went out the same way he came in; no class." True enough, but the voters and the media later forgot who he was. 

America paid the price for that memory lapse. Let's hope nobody ever forgets who Thaddeus McCotter really is.

 

Detroit follies — the latest sequel: Not surprisingly, Krystal Crittendon, the city's reality-challenged corporation counsel, is furthering her crusade to take the city down by continuing to fight the consent agreement in court.

Last month, Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette threw her silly lawsuit out in minutes, essentially saying it was frivolous. But now, possibly drunk on seeing her name in the headlines, Crittendon has asked him to reconsider.

The consent agreement was crafted last April, you may remember, to allow the city to share power and responsibility with the state as Detroit figures out the painful economic adjustments needed to avoid bankruptcy. The only real alternative was for the governor to appoint an emergency manager, in which case city officials, including Critttendon, would lose all their powers. 

Any other mayor would have fired her long ago, and indeed Dave Bing tried. But a quirk of the new charter doesn't allow him to do so unless two-thirds of the City Council agrees to do so. Detroit's dysfunctional council won't, of course, mainly because of its flamboyant leader, former local Fox News anchor Charles Pugh.

Good-time Charlie, who is best known for making a body-building video as his city neared bankruptcy, and for failing to make his mortgage payments and losing his homes, has been as wise as ever. Last week, running his mouth on the radio, he said the city wouldn't be in such hot water if Bing had listened to Crittendon before signing the consent agreement. Pugh also hinted that he is thinking about running for mayor, maybe because you don't have to pay rent on the Manoogian Mansion. Well, in a crack-brained way, Charlie is right about Bing listening to Krystal's oddly blue persuasion.

She claims, by the way, that the city can't enter into the consent agreement because the state owes it money, meaning mostly the $224 million in revenue sharing funds Detroit lost when the budget crisis hit the state and the Legislature screwed all Michigan cities.

Yes, denying Detroit that money was unfair and unfortunate, but the fact remains that even if the state paid the city in full, Detroit would be right back where it is now in less than a year.

If the mayor had turned down the consent agreement, neither he nor Pugh nor Crittendon would have any power now, because some emergency manager would be running the show. Nor, in all probability, would they be getting all their salaries and perks.

But as for running for mayor — true, history does occasionally repeat its tragedies as farces. However, Detroit does have a long and glorious history, with many heroes and noble persons white and black; French and English; young and old, rich and poor.

Yes, there have been villains too. But if our city has to commit suicide, surely there's a nobler way to do so than by throwing itself into the paws of Charlie "look at my six-pack abs" Pugh. 

 

More to come: Sadly, comrades, we are out of space. But not out of utter, raving madness. Come back soon to find out whether Detroit voters help Hansen Clarke lose to a white guy from Bloomfield Hills because they fear Hansen really isn't black enough!

More by Jack Lessenberry

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