Marion Barry is the poster child for the District of Columbia, and that is not a good thing.
This week, while Democrats gather at their convention to rally the troops around President Barack Obama, Barry is the big attention-getter for the District’s delegation.
Reports from Charlotte say that Barry is a man in demand. Everyone wants a photo with the “Mayor for Life.”
While I am sure that many of the people seeking photos with Barry do so out of admiration, others are certainly tickled to be photographed with one of America’s most infamous mayors.
Barry represents the past. An inglorious past that the District needs to leave behind.
For that reason, in February, I implored District Democrats not to send Barry to the convention. Nonetheless, he won a slot.
If you follow Barry on Twitter, you are seeing him tweet up a storm this week about District statehood and voting rights. Some of it makes sense, some does not.
Regardless, Barry is not the person to be leading this fight. The city has a contemporary image problem. A notorious former mayor as champion and/or spokesperson adds insult to injury.
Let us not forget, the District is currently reeling from scandals. In the past year, two council members pleaded guilty to federal felonies; one is in prison, one may be headed there. Mayor Vince Gray’s 2010 campaign remains under investigation; the feds have already taken three scalps and more are expected. The District’s bean counters are being scrutinized. Questions about lottery contracts and stolen campaign funds remain unanswered. The list goes on.
Though Barry may not be at the center of any of these scandals, it was only a few months ago that he was making global headlines over remarks about Asian storeowners, Filipina nurses and Polish Americans.
With each media appearance, be it good or bad, Barry reminds everyone of the District’s checkered past and scandalous present. That’s just the way it is.
From Voice of America to CNN to NPR, Barry is the District politician the world has been hearing from lately.
Barry knows how the game is played and he plays it as well as anyone. Infamy is far more attractive to the media than anything the District currently has to offer.
This has to stop.
But Barry has proven himself to be unstoppable.
Is there a dynamic, next-generation reformer ready step up to the plate? Can anyone take the spotlight away from Barry?
Hopefully we will know that answer before the 2016 Democratic Convention...