Our online dictionary succinctly defines the word obtuse as “not perceptive, not sharp.”
The word comes to mind as Mayor Adrian Fenty declines to step up and say something about the nascent write-in campaign that’s trying to get him elected in the Nov. 2 general election.
There’s no suggestion that the write-in effort will be anything more than an irritant to Democratic primary winner Vincent Gray.
But Fenty, so far, has declined requests from Gray to state publicly that he is opposed to the write-in. Mayor Fenty also declined to attend the Ward 3 town hall meeting Gray held last week.
So why won’t the mayor speak up?
Well, once again, the mayor is marching to his own drummer and isn’t considering, or is purposely ignoring, the civil political steps he should naturally take. It’s the kind of obtuse behavior -- there’s that word again -- that cost him re-election.
Fenty’s office would give only sparse responses to our inquiries all last week about the write-in effort and the Ward 3 meeting. Basically, we were told that the mayor wasn’t going to any of the town-hall meetings but that he stands by his September endorsement of Gray.
That’s when he raised Gray’s hand at a unity breakfast and promised to cooperate fully with the expected transition to Gray come Jan. 2. It was the right thing to do then. But is that all he thinks he has to do?
To the mayor’s credit, the Gray people say Fenty has been true to his word. And it’s clear that the administration officials under Fenty are working to put together briefing books and guidance for Gray. That’s all to the good.
But none of it explains or excuses the mayor’s truculent response to the simple request that he publicly speak up and speak out against the write-in effort.
Tens of thousands of voters supported Fenty. The mayor has the opportunity to tell the die-hards among them that the best thing for the city would be to rally around Gray. It would be a casual act of political decency. But if the mayor sticks to the unique timetable in his head, he probably won’t say anything until the eve of the election.
• The Write-In
John Hlinko is a consultant and public relations professional who is promoting the write-in. In an interview with NBC4 last week, Hlinko said he was doing it because Fenty has done such a good job in office, especially in terms of education. But Hlinko also had many nice things to say about Gray. Hlinko said the write-in should not be seen as a vote of no confidence in Gray.
But that’s exactly how it will be seen.
At the Ward 3 town hall last week, Gray tried mightily to persuade an overflow crowd that he is all for education reform despite his decision to do without Michelle Rhee. Gray was confident and persuasive, though perhaps a little too loud at a few points. (If we can digress here, it would be helpful if Gray at future town halls would use a moderator to speed along the questions. Some of the preambles to questions were really short speeches. Many more questions could have been asked if the program had been better organized.)
The crowd seemed to accept Gray, a candidate they simply don’t know very well. Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh had given a robust introduction that helped set the tone.
All that was missing was for Fenty to walk in. He would have received a sustained round of applause. He would have been treated like a hero. And he could have taken a moment to stand by Gray once again.
That moment, for now, has passed.
• Sports Time
The “heart-attack Redskins” survived another day on Sunday with a win over Green Bay. It’s always nicer around the Washington region when the ‘Skins are winning.
But we want to take a moment to acknowledge the end of the baseball season. The Nats were not as bad as they had been the past two years. And that’s good news.
We were disappointed to see that team president Stan Kasten moved on. He was as energetic as possible in rooting for the home team. He was the public face of the Nats because the Lerner family either hasn’t learned to or doesn’t want to take on that role.
The Southeast neighborhood that surrounds the ballpark continues to make progress in this difficult economy. Here’s looking to next season, when we hope both the team and the economy will be doing better than ever.