- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

It's not Marion Barry, stupid. No doubt, the former D.C. mayor is living to regret his infamous statement urging white folks to "get over it." The love-him-or-hate-him lightning rod politician is not alone. More than a half a million disenfranchised residents of the District wish Mr. Barry could take back that scolding, too.
It's clear that all who call the Last Colony home will forever suffer the consequences of having voted for the People's Prodigal Prince.
Comes now the Union Leader newspaper of Manchester, N.H., to disdain the District for a debatable proposal to push the D.C. presidential primary ahead of its state's dated starting line, although the presidential contenders cross the finish line at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
Don't most races run full circle, start where they end? How dare New Hampshire's polemicists punch the nation's capital? Because the District is not a state? No. Because the District is overwhelmingly Democratic? No. Because the District has only three electoral votes in the presidential election? No.
The Union Leader's editorial, titled "Worst in the Nation," declared: "We think the case against D.C. getting the first primary can be made in two words: Marion Barry." Huh? Will the Barry bashing never end?
Now I ask you, when was the last time you saw Marion Barry doing anything but avoiding his estranged wife, Cora Masters Barry? It wasn't Marion Barry who put this city back into a $323 million budget hole. It wasn't Marion Barry who submitted fake signatures on his petitions to be re-elected. It wasn't Marion Barry with whom residents are angry because crime is creeping back up and they can't get the police to respond to a routine call for help. It wasn't under Marion Barry's watch that the Washington Teachers Union spending scandal erupted. It wasn't under Marion Barry's watch that the city's health care delivery system collapsed. It wasn't under Marion Barry's watch that poor people were pushed out to corral "urban pioneers."
The Union Leader's dated diatribe stated, "There is just something unsavory about holding the first primary at the national seat of government." For one thing, "Electorally speaking, the residents of D.C. don't exactly have a stellar track record." Who does? He who is without sin cast the first vote.
Now the Union Leader might have a point about D.C. voters' judgment in picking some of its political leaders. After all, they voted for Mayor Anthony A. Williams out of fear of yet another Barry redemption. The ghost of Marion Barry does loom large for some, which is why they are willing to ignore the messes of Teflon Tony, who slips from one embarrassing ethical scandal to slide into another. Not to worry. There's D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton for correct balance.
And there's Jack Evans, the Ward 2 D.C. Council member who plans to introduce a bill seeking the presidential primary date change from May to Jan. 10 to make the District the "first in the nation." The "first in the nation" campaign was spearheaded by D.C. voting-rights advocates primarily with the D.C. Democracy Fund as a means of shining a national spotlight on D.C. residents' undemocratic "taxation without representation" status.
One of those tireless advocates, Timothy Cooper, said the Union Leader got it half right because "the political status of the nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, D.C., is just that the worst in the nation." Mr. Cooper said, "It's time for the presidential candidates of both parties to confront America's less-than-stellar track record on its treatment of D.C. residents."
The Union Leader also assailed all D.C. residents for being either politicians or federal employees who "don't exactly represent the views of the average American taxpayer." "In fact, there's probably no other city in the country less representative of America than Washington," it said.
In fact, there's probably nothing further from the truth. The Union Leader ought to read a U.S. census report. D.C. residents are definitely far less represented with no vote or voice in Congress, as Mr. Cooper pointed out in his letter to Union Leader editors. Yet its diverse populace is far more representative of the real demographics of this multicultural nation than "homogenous" New Hampshire, as Mr. Evans noted.
Pull out an atlas. Where is New Hampshire exactly? And, exactly who lives there? Don't think you'll find too many folks who look like me in that wintry white hinterland.
Bet you won't find any hotbed of divergent debate searing that remote landscape either.
Mr. Evans rightly argues that it is "anachronistic" to hold the first presidential primary in New Hampshire. That's not all.
The New Hampshire primary is as outdated and outmoded as continuing to cast criticism across the District of Columbia and holding its residents hostage because of a fabled fallen man who today is a threat to no one but himself.
This incessant Barry bashing is a thinly veiled political ploy whose time has come and gone. And, some folks just need to get over it.

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