Pity the poor, misunderstood blowhard
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has a long history of being a jerk that bashes the city of Detroit, its leadership, and its residents whenever the opportunity arises. He was recently given that opportunity by journalist Paige Williams who wrote a piece about him for the New Yorker magazine titled “Drop dead, Detroit!”. It’s behind a paywall so what we know about the piece comes from reporting from other outlets like the Detroit Free Press.
[UPDATE: you can now read the article online HERE.]
What we learn is that Paige gave Patterson a bit of rope and he hung himself high with it. As you read it, you get the sense that Patterson simply cannot shut up and is happiest when he hears his own voice either shocking people or making them laugh.
Here are some of his more outrageous comments:
Anytime I talk about Detroit, it’s not positive. Therefore, I’m a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.
I used to say to my kids, ‘First of all, there’s no reason for you to go to Detroit. We’ve got restaurants out here.’ They don’t even have movie theatres in Detroit — not one.
I can’t imagine finding something in Detroit that we don’t have in spades here. Except for live sports. We don’t have baseball, football. For that, fine — get in and get out. But park right next to the venue — spend the extra twenty or thirty bucks. And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking.
I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.
Asked about the kick in the teeth that he delivered to the city of Detroit with these comments, Patterson couldn’t be bothered but his spokesperson had this hilarious deflection:
It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson. She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region.
Notice that he doesn’t claim Williams made up these quotes. He doesn’t suggest that Patteson doesn’t actually feel this way. Only that Williams “had an agenda”. I agree with that, I suppose. Her agenda was to show Patterson for the jerk that he is.
None of this comes as much of a surprise to anyone who knows much about L. Brooks Patterson. It’s just more of the same from him, when it comes down to it. The Detroit Free Press’s Rochelle Riley spells it out plainly:
L. Brooks Patterson has been spewing filth on and off for decades — inappropriate, sexist, hurtful and hateful, mostly about Detroit, ugly comments that a lesser man couldn’t get away with.
The thing is, Patterson isn’t a lesser man. He’s the man running Oakland County, one of the most successful governments in the nation. And he has truly believed all this time that he did it all on his own, rather than acknowledge a tax base that included so many people of means who used to live in Detroit.
L. Brooks Patterson believes himself to be an island, a one-man savior for southeast Michigan. The reality is that he’s little more than a bully who intentionally says provocative things to disparage others to draw more attention to himself. Blowhard attention whores may get things done but they tend to end their lives without real friends and leaving behind a legacy most of us would be embarrassed about.
When Patterson’s epitaph is written, there will far more said about what an antagonistic, insulting, divisive person he was than any good he may have done along the way.
It’s a legacy he’s gone to great pains to earn.
[CC photo credit: ALSofMichigan | Flickr]