Friday, July 31, 2009

The Great Hater

After an 18-year, nearly tyrannical reign as the Memphis mayor, Willie Herenton has resigned on his own terms, on his own schizophrenic timetable, exiting to the uncomfortably poignant tune "My Way".

There are plenty of stories in circulation about Herenton's politics of hate, his penchant for weaving his personal life with his political connections, his bizarre disappearances, his ever-expanding political posse, and so on. In fact, it's much more difficult to find a recent story detailing Herenton's accomplishments without the dark shadow of his irrational behavior looming. The absence of real progress in Herenton's tenure is truly pathetic given that he has held the position of Memphis mayor longer than anyone else... ever.

But enough about Herenton's indiscretions. Everyone knows about his poor oversight and shady political tactics. In his resignation speech yesterday, Willie gave his shout-outs, talked about his accomplishments, listed some "critical imperatives" that he wants his replacement to handle (Hey Willie. Let it go, man.), and offered his regular self-congratulations on being a man and being a good superintendent and fighting white racists, yada yada yada. However, during his speech, he made a statement that typified his entire mindset as mayor. Rather than praising the people of Memphis for finding any unity at all, Herenton went out of his way to address the idea that Memphis basketball could be a unifier for the city of Memphis by saying it "makes him sick."

I'm sorry? A city historically regarded as racially charged finds common ground in a basketball team and it makes the mayor "sick"? Has Herenton ever attended a University of Memphis basketball game? It's not like the mayor's office. Tiger fans don't fight each other to see who the best fan will be. Tiger fans don't kick out the person sitting next to them so they can squeeze a few more friends onto their row. Tigar fans don't disappear for vast periods of time, then show back up acting like nothing ever happened (although we've seen that before and those fans suck, thus supporting the example).

What you see from a statement as inane as Herenton's is a man who is so narcissistic and insecure that he cannot support a good thing in his own city unless it can be credited to himself. Rather than rally behind the team like the rest of the city, Herenton sees the Tigers as a competitor for the seat of Memphis' darling and his ego will simply not tolerate it. Is this perspective surprising? From a man who insulted the democratic process with campaign slogans such as "Shake Them Haters Off", we should have expected his response to be defensive and derogatory.

If anything, Herenton could have learned from the Tiger basketball team. Find a cause that benefits the people and stirs up passion among them, rally the troops behind that cause and push forward to achieve the greatest things possible. That sentiment is what made the championship run so special. That's why people of all colors showed up at the airport to support the team. That's why most people were furious and felt betrayed when Benedict Calipari abandoned ship. That's the same reason why years from now, people will cheer the day that the reign of King Willie ended.



Dacus said...

So eloquently put.

King Willie made several absurd statements in his speech. He said that he wants unity on education and "helping some black folks make some money." What? Just the black folks? Why not everybody. He claims he was sent to break the racial barrier, but he hasn't done anything but further it.

His new campaign slogan is "keep it real," which is another slap to the face of the political system.

He claims that he was a "fantastic" mayor, and "to come behind me is going to be a tough act." I'm pretty sure he meant to come after him, but who's keeping score. Yes, King Willie, it will be tough. It will be tough to clean up the messy debacle you left behind. I'm no longer in Memphis, but I'm happy for the city. I fear, however, that it has traded one tyrant for another.

And to kick the city while it's down, Willie will be receiving over $160,000 a year in pension money.

Pistolier said...

Excellent. Memphis Sport needs to print this in the next edition.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor did attend a basketball game, to present an award to DeAngelo Williams. He was roundly and lustily booed. Tiger fans have had the Mayor's number for a while.

Jake Bishop said...

To present an award? Really? Ha ha. Big surprise.

Anonymous said...

Oh we booed the hell out of King Willie. I was at that game. You should have heard some of the stuff coming from the student section, none of which is repeatable. Herenton is a joke, a shady crook of a mayor who has done nothing but look out for himself and his posse. Good riddance.

Will Bishop said...

Guys...I love this blog; great stuff. I'm living in Jackson MS now so my primary sources for Tiger news are the CA and this blog.
Excellent article on King Willie. I hope whoever is our next esteemed mayor won't be such a pathetic excuse for a leader...but maybe I shouldn't hold my breath.
Keep up the good work! Go Tigers!

Post a Comment

Throw something down...