Disaster relief

Jul 30, 2008 at 12:00 am

While watching one of the Sunday morning talking-head television shows last week, we were reminded of that old axiom that begins, "For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost ..." and ends with an entire kingdom being lost, all for the want of a nail.

And though he wasn't mentioned by name, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick became part of a discussion regarding the presidential race and the importance Michigan could play in determining who'll be sitting in the Oval Office come January.

During the roundtable segment of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the host zeroed in on two states that could prove crucial in selecting the next president. The way Stephanopoulos sees it, Republican John McCain has to take Michigan to have any hope of defeating Barack Obama, and that Obama has to win Virginia.

Although Michigan has gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, the latest polls show Obama currently locked in a virtual dead heat with his GOP rival. Given that Michigan has been hurt more by the recent economic downturn than any other state, and that much of the blame for that belongs to the Bush White House, the conventional wisdom is that the Democratic candidate should be cruising here. But we face an unconventional situation.

"You're hearing from politicians that ... Obama is having a terrible time in Michigan which is interesting ..." observed commentator Cokie Roberts.

So, what's Obama's problem here? Former Bush-Cheney campaign strategist Matthew Dowd first pointed an accusatory finger at Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, whom Dowd described as being "very unpopular" as a result of the state's severe economic slump, making her skirt tails considerably shorter than they could be.

And then there's what could be called the Kwame Factor.

"The mayor of Detroit," said Dowd, "is a disaster."

That's anything but a news flash around these parts.

With the Kwamster becoming more radioactive almost by the hour, Obama, rightfully, doesn't want to get anywhere near the guy. Which makes it difficult for the first African-American presidential candidate to represent a major party to come to town and fire up the troops in the blackest of America's big cities. As for the mayor himself helping from the shadows — he's doing everything he can just to hold onto his office and stay out of jail.

There's no question that Detroit — which went Democratic by a margin of more than 9-to-1 during the past two presidential elections — is going to cast its collective vote for Obama. The only question is: How big will the turnout be?

And if McCain were to somehow win the state and (shudder) the presidency, that old saw will take on new meaning ...

"For want of an (effective) mayor the state was lost; for want of a state the election was lost ..."

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that Kilpatrick's delusion-filled efforts to retain his office aren't just bad news for Detroit, or this region or the entire state.

This paper was among the very first to say it months ago, and the message to the mayor is even more urgent today:

"Just go."

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]