Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Bastard Set Himself Up

Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is on the stuff. Again.

That would be cocaine, a demon drug that he has fought and repeatedly given in to over a long, tumultuous career in District of Columbia politics.

The nadir of the Barry's career was in January 1990 when the then-mayor was arrested with a woman in a sting operation at a D.C. hotel by the FBI and Metropolitan Police for crack cocaine use and possession. The incident – videotaped by the feds (see photo) and played over and over on television – produced what is perhaps the most memorable quote of Barry's long career:

The bitch set me up!

Barry did six months in prison for the deed, but quickly returned to his old ways.

Most of us know someone who has succumbed to alchohol or drugs. I happen to know more than my share -- or knew, since several drank or drugged themselves to death despite the intervention of family and myself and other friends -- so the following excerpt from Washington Post metro columnist Marc Fisher in a column today puts it all in perspective:

In a warped, small way, we are all responsible for Barry's continuing addiction to risk. When we vote for this gaunt old man, when we write news stories about his escapades, when we share jokes about him, we are joining in the fantasy -- the ludicrous notion that he is a superman who can make things happen in this dysfunctional city even while he destroys himself with drugs. We did it again last month, when he staged a little stunt to "save" the D.C. baseball stadium and we hailed the return of the Mayor for Life.

Friends, colleagues, reporters, we've all dutifully listened and repeated his rhetoric about how he's clean now, he's found God, he drinks nutritious fruit juices, he attends his 12-step meetings. And he withered away before our eyes.

But now, even some of those who voted for him more times than they can recall say it's over, enough.

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