“He May Not Be Perfect, but He’s Good Enough for DC.” --Marion Barry’s 1992 campaign slogan after his release from prison
“Political enemies of mines.”
This phrase has become the refrain of politicians hoping to deflect criticism of whatever ridiculous controversy they happen to find themselves embroiled in at the time. And this is the tactic former DC mayor and current councilman Marion Barry resorted to this morning on CNN when attempting to defend the choices he has made and the many legal problems he has faced over the years.
In other words, rather than be honest and accept responsibility for his actions, he chose instead to posit himself in the dis-empowering role as victim.
And he looked almost pathetic as he attempted to tell his side of the story, to spin it if you will. But I can remember a time when he was anything but pathetic. I actually remember when he was an intrepid, outspoken spokesman and crusader on the behalf of the downtrodden. I remember when Barry was actually one of my role models, someone who I sought to emulate.
But that was before he was taped smoking crack cocaine with a female “friend” in a Washington, DC hotel room in 1990 which he disputed despite the taped evidence. That was before U.S. Park Police found traces of marijuana and crack cocaine in his car in 2002. That was before Barry tested positive for cocaine and marijuana in 2006, right before being sentenced to probation for failing to file his taxes. And that was certainly before his arrest on misdemeanor stalking charges on this past Fourth of July.
However, despite his many legal problems and personal demons, and I have not even catalogued them all, the people of DC have continued to support him and give him their vote. But at what point does all the good one has done, no matter how great, become eclipsed by instances of dereliction and just plain bad judgment? Given the many problems faced by DC, when will the people of DC stop settling for just “good enough” ?
At this point, Barry should not be in any position of leadership or governance. He cannot even govern himself. In fact, Barry should immediately go out and hire the biggest, meanest, most menacing bodyguard to protect him from himself.
Certainly, I applaud Barry’s record of service dating back to the Civil Rights Movement, but at this time, he has become a liability rather than an asset to the cause.
I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming HBO documentary, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry which airs on Monday, August 10. I am curious as to how they will approach the enigma that is Marion Barry. The promotional clip is embedded below: