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August 11, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-08-11

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Monday, August 11, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com



Addicted to D. C.



t 5s

A Butman mentality

A fter my third viewing
of "The Dark Knight"
- the spectacular sequelto
Begins" - the
caped crusader
was on my
mind. And as I
was browsingg
through the
Detroit news
and reading
about Mayor ROBERT
Kwame Kilpat- SOAVE
rick's recent
run-ins with the law, I suddenly
realized that Batman's troubles
with organized crime in fictional
Gotham City seemed surreally
Kilpatrick was released Friday
from an overnight stay in Wayne
County jail. He was originally in
trouble for firing two police officers
in connection with the discovery of
his secret text message love affair,
with his chief of staff Christine
Beatty. Friday brought him two
additional charges - for assault. No
reasonable politician should ever
expect to remain in office under
such scandalous conditions, but
Kilpatrick obstinately refuses to
face the consequences of his life of
crime. His attitude that he is above
the rules has transformed him into
Detroit's clownish but criminal
The Joker of "The Dark Knight"
is a sadistic, psychopathic killer -
and though Kilpatrick's crimes lack
a violent edge (mostly, that is), his
attitude matches the super villain in
its absolute disrespect for the pre-
cepts of honorable city governance.
Kilpatrick does not wear the Joker's
clown makeup, but he has still man-
aged to turn the office of the mayor
into a bad joke. As Gov. Jennifer
Granholm, Detroit City Council
and WayneCountyProsecutorKym

from office, he responds with noth-
ingbut contemptfor their authority.
He actually told Detroit TV station
WDIV: "My grandfather always
said thatifyou're digging agrave for
someone - dig two, so (Kym Wor-
thy) better be careful," in reference
to Worthy's attempts to have him
removed. The movie scene where
the Joker calls in to a TV station to
threaten Gotham City seems eerily
similar to this.
But Kilpatrick is not the only
villain. Gotham City also has the
Falcone and Maroni crime fami-
lies - Detroit has city council. The
Federal Bureau of Investigation is
currently wiretapping certain city
council members for taking bribes
from Synagro, a Houston-based
company that was recently award-
ed a lucrative sludge-recycling con-
tractfor the city.Several citycouncil
aides and personnel were caught on
tape taking bribes from Synagro
representatives. In a Detroit Free
Press article from July 2, two sourc-
es close to Synagro said that they
were surprised how cheaply some
public officials could be bought.
The antics of the dirty crooks in city
council are so blatantly criminal
that they seem like they belong in a
movie plot - but this is really hap-
pening, in our city!
"The Dark Knight" introduced
Harvey Dent, a district attorney
who was championed as Gotham's
savior. Instead, he was betrayed by
his own officials and handed over to
thevillains.Asimilar problemexists
in Detroit - any effort at reform
would be handled by untrustworthy
people. If there are any city officials
still trying to change things, they
could be in danger, as evidenced by
Kilpatrick's sinister words for Kym
Enter Batman. While a masked-

save the city of Detroit, Batman's
attitude of sweeping, unequivocal
change and higher justice is what
the people of Detroit must embrace
in order to have any hope of sav-
ing the city. We must wake up to
the fact that the city is as bad as it
can get, and no one can change that
except for us. We can't rely on our
current crop of city officials to fix
anything. Every person in office in
Detroit needs to be removed and
replaced. Nothing is too drastic at
this point. It's hard to know what
will work. But what won't work
is sitting back and watching the
mayor, the city council and other
city officials try to out-maneuver
each other. They are all villains.
We are the hope. We are Batman.
Meet Detroit's
cast of criminals.
The caped crusader has no
superpower - he does nothing
that your average person could
not theoretically accomplish. He
is well-funded and well-equipped,
but it is his resolve to do right that
makes him a superhero, not flashy
abilities. And while no single
person's resolve will be enough
to save Detroit from its grim fore-
cast, if the whole Detroit area
- from the inner city to the outer
suburbs - can come together and
recognize the need for a Batman
mentality, we might be able to
succeed where our leaders have
Robert Soave is a summer
associate editorial page
editor. He can be reached at

For one week every summer,
my family gets together for
our annual camping trip
up north. The
best part of
these trips is
sitting aroundu
the campfire,
together, talk-
ing and catching
up. Usually the
conversation is TOM
light-hearted, MICHNIACKI
my aunts and
uncles making
fun of how old they are as my cous-
ins and I talk about the cute girls
who walk by.
But thisyear, something different
happened. Maybe it was inevitable
in an election year, the conversa-
tion came to politics. This was the
question at hand: Is experience in
Washington a necessary quality in a
;president president?
The question -intrigued me -
even enough to get me to look away
from the Carmen Electra look-a-
like strolling by. At this point in the
.campaign season, John McCain age
jokes abound. But it's been a while
since there's been a real debate
about Barack Obama's greenness
- not in environmental terms, but
rather relating to terms served in
office. While this might turn some
voters away from him, it doesn't
bother me - in fact, I think it's one
of his strengths.
I may be one of the few who
believes this, but I think too much
experience in Washington is a bad
thing. A large percentage of politi-
cians seek office because they feel
that they can make a difference in
the lives of others. They want to
improve their communities and pro-
vide greater services to the public.
But sadly, time and time again
we've seen positive political goals
vanish once officials get to Wash-
ington. They seemingly forget about
their hopes of helping people, get-
ting caught in perpetual games of
power-grubbing. Sitting around the
campfire I couldn't help but analo-
gize; political power is a lot like
that wonderful can of SPAM you
eat while camping - once you get a
taste of it you never stop wanting it.
That reality has made the term
"Washington" practically tanta-
mount to "corruption." The longer
politicians, live and work under
negative influences like lobbyists
and special interests, the more cor-
rupt they themselves become. The
number of favors they must pay
back to these manipulators soars
as their political experience grows.
And as our elected officials settle

themselves further and further into
contributors' pockets, more and
more noble promises that they once
earnestly intended to keep fall to
the wayside at an accelerated rate.
Too much time in Washington can
be bad.
Experience in Congress before
being elected is not what makes
an extraordinary president. For
instance, look at Abraham Lincoln
- that's right, an Abraham Lincoln
reference. He only served one term
in the House of Representatives
before becoming president. Sur-
prisingly, that term ended about ten
years before he was chosen as com-
mander in chief. Thank you, History
Why years of
experience are
Today, Lincoln would be consid-
ered far too freshman for the Oval
office and probably would have
never have gotten elected. Yet, he
is considered one of the greatest
presidents. His legacy teaches us
that time spent in Washington is not
necessary to obtain political great-
ness, and pales in comparison to liv-
ingamiddle-class orpoverty-ridden
life. Politicians should be spending
less time in D.C. and more time fac-
ing the challenges that are rampant
throughoutthe United States.
I want my president to be
extremely educated, but I also want
him to know what it feels like to be
thousands of dollars in debt from
student loans. My leader of the
free world must be grateful that
he resides in the luxurious White
House because he has spent time
talking to and trying to understand
those who live without a roof over
their heads.
The kind of experience that mat-
ters most when it comes to picking
a president is time spent facing and
understanding the adversity that
Americans encounter every day.
This type of experience gives a poli-
tician the empathy and knowledge
necessary to make judgments that
are best for the majority of the coun-
try. Truly experiencing the life of an
average American is the best way to
gain an understanding of the real
hardships facing the nation.
Tom Michniacki can be
reached at tmich@umich.edu.

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