Ed Driscoll

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Dead at 78


Marion Barry served as grand marshal of the Washington DC Martin Luther King Day Parade on Jan. 15, 2001. Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com.

“Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, whose four terms were overshadowed by his 1990 arrest after being caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine, died Sunday morning,” AP reports in a breaking story:

Barry D.C. council spokeswoman LaToya Foster says he died shortly after midnight Sunday at a hospital in Washington. He had battled kidney problems stemming from diabetes and high blood pressure and underwent a kidney transplant in February 2009.

To its credit, AP’s article does focus on when it all went wrong for Barry…

During much of the period between 1984 and 1990, Barry was under federal investigation for his ties to drug suspects. He consistently denied using drugs, but his late-night partying began to take a toll on his job performance.

On Jan. 19, 1990, FBI agents videotaped him buying and smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room not far from the White House. The tape, which included his subsequent arrest, was widely distributed to the media and made Barry infamous worldwide.

A few months after his arrest, long-time civil rights advocate and educator Roger Wilkins, a past supporter, wrote in The Post: “Marion Barry used the elders and lied to the young. He has manipulated thousands of others with his cynical use of charges of racism to defend his malodorous personal failures.”

…But — of course! — it leaves out the infamous four word quote that Barry will always be remembered for.

Update: Former MTV VJ Kennedy interviewed a defiant Barry in 2012 for Reason TV shortly after he was videotaped telling his supporters that “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now:”

[jwplayer player=”1″ mediaid=”77128″]

Update (11:30 am): Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard wins the Internet today with his eulogy of “Marion Barry, Human Being:”

The unspoken idea, when I approached him in 2009, after a brush with the law for stalking his girlfriend, and after he was well past his political prime, was that I’d let him know when he was lying to me—which was often—and we’d proceed from there. Instead, we’d try to extract something real, even if his lies themselves were part of the realness. This dynamic seemed to liberate Barry, and so, even in his revisionism and self-justification, he ended up revealing a lot of truth. For starters, within ten minutes of my meeting him, he showed me his nipples (in order to display an old gunshot wound resulting from when Muslim terrorists seized the District Building in the ‘70s, and he caught a bullet in the chest). I was encouraged. In the profiler’s handbook, it clearly states that when a man insists you get eyeball-to-areola with him, there lies a man you can do business with.

Awesome. Do I even need to say, read the whole thing? Well, read the whole thing.