Thursday, July 16, 2009

“He May Not Be Perfect, but He’s Good Enough for DC”: Why Do the Citizens of DC Continue to Support Marion Barry?

“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:

[Clip here for a full synopsis of the program.]


Anonymous said...

Now that is true equality: when a black politician can be just as corrupt as a white one and get away with it.

MrsGrapevine said...

I never understood that before, now. The "woman" set me up, sure she made you go outside your marriage and made you do drugs. Maybe she informed the cops, but the rest was all Marion Berry. When this incident occurred he was on third wife. something tell me he has a woman problem.

Vérité Parlant said...

We face the same kind of nonsense down here, William Jefferson aka money-in-the-freezer man. And his cry is the white folks were out to get me. Such people never want to address what they actually did wrong.

Jonne Austin said...

The low expectations that affects Detroit and Memphis are the same that affect D.C. Shameful! Someone broke down why he's so popular, which is still sad but obviously they need to do work on themselves before they do anything about Barry.

♥ CG ♥ said...

You know, enough is a enough. As a Washingtonian (born and raised), I can honestly say that he did a number of commendable things for residents back in the day, but his lack of personal responsibility is wearing thin and overshadows all the positive.

Not only is he way too old for such nonsense, but he's doing the city a disservice by making it's "ride or die" Barry fans look like idiots. Believe me, the tide is turning...his days are numbered.

uglyblackjohn said...

I don't think people support this Black man as much as they hate to see another Black man being attacked by the white establishment(Think; O.J.).
As long as Marion can be seen as a 'victim' - Marion will be taken in.

blackink said...

Anon, that's a nice one.

And yeah, Marion is just doing what it do. No one really expects or demands better from him. He just kind of exists in public office. Maybe his district re-elects him because he's a familiar face, he knows all the names, keeps the trains running on time and really and truly represents his district.

But that doesn't make him unusual by any stretch. He's just a little more, uh, open about his faults? Flamboyant? Unapologetic? I dunno.

We're past a point where Marion Barry means anything larger for black people or the people of DC. He's just a dude in office. And that's Ok.

Max Reddick said...

@ Anon

No, not true equality. Because Barry seems to get caught too much. If it were indeed true equality, they would look the other way.

@ MrsGrapevine

That's just a refusal to be accountable for his own actions. She didn't put a gun to his head and make him go to the room and smoke crack!

@ Norlette Adams

Hey, what's going on with ol' William Jefferson? Has he gone to jail yet? That seems to be a problem in our community. We continue to support those who have not earned our support.

@ Seattle Slim

Thanks for stopping by.

Yeah, I grew up in Memphis. I thought when a black mayor was elected, things would get much better. But they only got that much more corrupt.

@ CurvyGurl

Yes, he did a lot of commendable things. But even as he was doing those things, he was clowning on the side. He has gotten away with more than has ever made the papers.

And I love DC. That's one of my favorite cities in the world. Y'all got that flava'. But the people of DC deserve more. They deserve someone who is going to affect real change. I think Barry is beyond that now.

@ uglyblackjohn

That may be it. Because Barry is so closely identified with the black community, any attack on Barry they take personal.

@ blackink

I remember when Corrine Brown ran for reelection and her slogan was, "I bring home the bacon." She was actually advertising that she went straight for the pork. But she lacks substance and proper English skills, but the people keep reelecting her. And with her influence, she could do so much more. It's a shame what we are willing to accept on account of racial loyalty.

Kim said...

No comment on Mr. Barry, but I wonder where Effi Barry is now?

Jazz said...

I'd like to see the election totals bc I suspect that Marion Barry keeps winning because:

a.) he's stealing the election
b.) not enough of his opponents are voting
c.) not enough DC residents are voting.

When the total votes # is low, then a person can win with a very low %age.

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