Marion Barry, Please Dont Go!
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sat, 30 May 98 00:41:31 -0700
Subject: Marion Barry, Please Dont Go!
Forwarded-by: Dan Hunt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Marion Barry, Please Dont Go!
By Tony Kornheiser
Sunday, May 24, 1998; Page F01
Say it ain't so, Marion.
Say you're not leaving me.
I've lived in Washington since 1979. You're the only mayor I've ever had.
(Well, there was Sharon Pratt Kelly. But she only got elected because you
were, um, away. She was so unpopular that when she ran for reelection she
only got 13 percent of the primary vote. Forget the other party -- 87
percent of her own party didn't want her! People wrote in Pol Pot ahead of
I simply can't imagine Washington without you, Marion. It's like imagining
Paris without L'Arc de Triomphe. Or olestra without the nasty leakage. Or
daytime TV without one fat chick decking another fat chick on "Jerry
You've been great for me, Marion. You've been bold, brash and bigger than
life. What would I have written about John Ray all these years -- that he
recommends using shoe trees?
You stood for everything that's great about this city: sex, drugs and room
service. If you leave, what will I do for humorous political material? (Oh,
silly me. Bill "American Gigolo" Clinton is still the president, right?)
I almost cried when I saw you on TV, announcing you weren't going to run
again. I was awestruck when you said you were a humble man, a man of God,
a courageous man, a compassionate, sensitive, sacrificing man, and an
excellent mayor. But I guess if you hadn't said that, who would?
Let's review the score card of your many years of public service:
First term: You were not busted for smoking crack.
Second term: You were not busted for smoking crack.
Third term: Oops.
Fourth term: So far, so good.
That's real progress.
And yet what have they done to you, Marion? The feds have stripped you of
every meaningful responsibility. You can't even make a long distance call
without getting permission from Congress. And then you have to dial 10321
first. You aren't a real mayor anymore. You're strictly ceremonial now, like
Mayor McCheese. You ought to wear a button that says: "Welcome to
Washington, D.C. Try our Filet o' Fish."
You have been a model for personal style, Marion. And a visionary. It is
only now being questioned whether President Clinton had a sexual liaison in
the Oval Office. It was alleged you had one in the visitors lounge in prison
Your style was unapologetic.
When you were spotted at a strip bar on 14th Street, you said, "I'm a night
owl." If Gary Hart had said that, he might be president today. (Or a forest
When you were found frequenting the home of a fetching young model, you
said, "I'm visiting her son." Her 3-year-old son! Did you bring Lego?
When you were at the Super Bowl in L.A. in 1987 and it snowed 20 inches
here, paralyzing the city, you didn't rush home, you partied in sunny
California -- and claimed you were on top of the situation here because you
had "called home at halftime, and after the game."
When you won reelection in 1994 with, like, 0.00002 percent of the white
vote, you didn't reach out to heal the divisions -- you told white people
to "get over it." I tried. It was piled too high.
When you spent several hours at an "unscheduled stop," and it grew late,
and your security detail, fearing for your safety, went to fetch you, and
according to an internal police memo, you answered the door "partially
clothed," you said you were "visiting political supporters." What were you
doing, courting the nudist vote?
No wonder I voted for you every time. You put this city on the political
Whenever I traveled to other cities, from Miami to Seattle, and told anyone
I lived in Washington, D.C., they'd hoot, "Your mayor is a crack-head!"
And I'd answer, proudly, "Yeah? But he photographs well from the side."
People are going to knock you, Mr. Mayor, but I won't. This city has
undergone a cultural renaissance while you have been in office. Look at what
you accomplished in your 16 years:
1. Property values haven't declined nearly as far as they have in Sarajevo.
2. Much of the time, we could drink the tap water.
3. Often the potholes in our streets were not so deep that our cars
completely disappeared from view.
4. We became an arts center. "D.C. Cab," starring Mr. T, was filmed here.
5. No American city or foreign country dropped an A-bomb on us.
That's your legacy: "Marion Barry. He kept us out of war."
I can't fathom why the consortium of local universities -- which includes
Georgetown, George Washington, Maryland and American -- didn't offer you a
position teaching political science. Your course would have been packed to
I can see it in the catalogue now: "Poli. Sci. 'How to Get Away With Just
About Everything.' Instructor: Marion S. Barry Jr., former Mayor for Life."
(c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
© 1998 Peter Langston