- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Whazzup with Marion Barry? Why we gotta go there again? Someone jokingly asked me to "Fess up. It was you who was supposed to meet MB down in Buzzard's Point, wasn't it?"

Let me go on the record right now: Indeed, former D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry put his arms around me at the Dorothy Height dinner last week. Indeed, I stood still long enough to pose for a funny picture with the former first couple. Indeed, Mr. Barry sat next to me and promised to call "soon" for "a talk" just after announcing his candidacy for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.

But the last (and only) time, I met Marion Barry alone to discuss his flip-flopping forays, he suggested that we have lunch at an open restaurant in a bustling downtown hotel in broad daylight and I still quipped, "I don't know if that's such a good thing for me."

Hello? Anyone remember the Vista Hotel? Rasheeda "No" Moore? Karen "What's-her-name?" And, that other girl (a dead-ringer for Karen Johnson) with the drug-dealer boyfriend who I saw Mr. Barry with at Le Rivage in Southwest when the official mayoral schedule had him sitting at an Africare dinner with his wife.

I don't know who in their right mind would agree to meet with MB on a dark, deserted street near the rat-infested river's end no matter how much "counseling" they needed. Not even MB needs to go there.

You've got to be crazy to even consider such a tete-a-tete. Hire a shrink.

We all know that Mr. Barry's cravings for the ladies goes far beyond any other presumed peccadilloes. Besides, you'd better believe that nothing anyone can do to the People's Prodigal Prince publicly after this latest caper could be worse than the crushing penalty he's privately paying in Cora Masters Barry's home after chasing God knows who for God knows what at that hour at Buzzard's Point.

But let's not jump to conclusions too quickly.

After all, we're talking about Mr. Barry who is forever the victim of the sinister "setup." After all, it was federal authorities this time the U.S. Park Police who found "a suspect" in a "suspicious" car that was curiously reported parked in the wrong place and the wrong time. The same Park Police contend "the suspect" was ingesting something and had a powdery substance under his nose when they approached his vehicle, a green Jaguar.

Whatever "traces of marijuana and crack cocaine" they found in the car were not enough to arrest Mr. Barry but surely enough to embarrass him and those who have kept the faith in him. Yet again.

Mr. Barry, true to form, denies it all. His loyal minions, true to form, cry "entrapment." Even radio comedian Jay Anthony Brown of the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" insists that "Marion was eating powdered doughnuts."

Sound ridiculous? Well, what else to do but make jokes about such a stupid situation.

Set up? Seriously now, not a single soul set up Marion Barry but Marion Barry.

After all he's been through, after the "redemption" songs and after the "bloodied but unbowed" speeches, Mr. Barry should have known that the second he sought re-election, he would be seriously scrutinized, and he should seriously contemplate his every move.

How come politicans never seem to get the "public" part about being "public officials"?

If nothing more, if you can find it in your heart to continue to believe every weak explanation Mr. Barry can offer in defense of himself, yet again, Hizzoner definitely demonstrated a sorry lack of good judgment.

So poor that you would have to question his ability to adequately represent his constituents should he return to the council dais. Surely, he could not be effective.

"The big issue is whether I can be effective serving somewhere else, doing some other things," Mr. Barry said in an earlier interview after he decided not to run for office because he had "a people's ministry" for "the lost, the left-out and the least."

This is not 1994. Surprisingly, I have heard some of Mr. Barry's closest and loyal confidants give up the ghost. Some have privately confided that "MB," as they call him, won't even return their phone calls, let alone mine. They say he is "ducking" them because he knows they don't want to hear it.

Folks, especially black professionals, who welcomed his return and pledge not only their votes but their bucks are already backing away after this latest incident because they "just don't want the further embarrassment," said one D.C. resident.

"Disappointed," "hurt," "painful" and "he needs to get help," are not uncommon sentiments even among those who believe that he very well may have been watched by authorities more closely since his announcement for a return to office. "They knew all they had to do is wait," said one.

Exactly. We all know that all we have to do is wait and sooner or later in some form or fashion Marion Barry's personal quirks will eventually appear. Such a shame because he will forever be remembered not for the good, but for the bad and the ugly.

"Life is full of challenges. I've learned to turn stumbling blocks into steppingstones," Mr. Barry said during another interview.

But Mr. Barry's missteps give too many people too many reasons to deflect the spotlight from the real issues that are not being addressed by the current council or mayor.

Mr. Barry's shortcomings also allow his successor, Anthony A. Williams, "to keep getting a free ride, and he's not accountable to no one," as one D.C. resident angrily noted.

Without Marion Barry there would be no need of Tony Williams for some; without Tony Williams there would be no need of Marion Barry for others.

Mr. Barry once told me, "I know the District better than anybody else and I know what's best for this city." He also said, "I don't want to fight those kind of fights that don't get you anywhere." If this is true, then the 66-year-old mythical Mayor for Life must come to grips with what he has to do now because we just can't go there again.

Now, it's MB's turn to take his own advice and "just get over it."


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