Thies: Cheap Shot From Washington Post Columnist

If Mother Teresa was mayor of Washington, D.C., teenagers would not get pregnant.

If Nelson Mandela was mayor, all third graders would be able to read.

If Gandhi was mayor, thousands of youth in the juvenile justice system would instead be packing their bags for college.

This is what Colby King, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, wants you to believe.

In King’s view, many of the District’s woes would be solved if the mayor and D.C. Council presided from an ivory tower.

“An ingredient is missing from efforts to tackle our social ills, and it’s not money. It is moral authority,” wrote King in his weekly opinion column.

That is not how things work.

For sure, District government has failed for more than a generation to build good schools. District government has also failed to create jobs and spur economic development in its poorest neighborhoods.

I could spend a lot time detailing areas in which District government has failed, but blaming longstanding social ills on elected officials who are embroiled in contemporary scandals is a bridge too far.

Countless factors spanning decades have led to the creation of horrific conditions that too many District residents endure. Least among those factors, however, is the moral turpitude of current elected officials.

Connecting disruptions caused by recent scandals to years of dereliction is a cheap shot.

King has produced scores of powerful columns. "A ‘big-league city’ led by bush-leaguers" falls well short of the standard to which his readers, I among them, have grown accustomed.

Disclosure: I was a consultant to Jim Graham's 2010 reelection campaign. Graham is a subject of criticism in the King column discussed herein.

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