stay classy, Marion Barry… stay classy

around these parts (what with our proximity to DC and all), there are quite a few people who aren’t great fans of the illustrious Marion Barry which, given his colorful past, i can completely understand. this attitude is, in my estimation, the wrong one, because it implies we’re looking at politicians and expecting them to stand for noble ideals and uphold democracy and so on, something that politicians have proven time and time again that they’re incapable of doing. if, however, you look at politicians for your comedy, then you’ll find that Marion Barry never disappoints. seriously, you never see his name in your local newspaper attached to anything approaching serious politics – it’s always something crazy. i mean, just look at the man’s past:

Marion Barry
before this gets too negative… please note that i do think Barry has completely awesome taste when it comes to hats

1977: shot by Hanafi Muslims when they overran the District Building. in fairness, this one is not that crazy, but a lot of people forget that Barry got randomly shot during this incident, so i like to throw it into the mix.

1990: arrested and convicted of various offenses related to smoking crack cocaine. this is probably the big incident everyone knows of Barry for, thanks to a news media that LOVES juicy stories, Chris Rock’s excellent opening bit on Roll With The New, and the excellent soundbite of “bitch set me up!” seriously, for the average politician, getting caught on an FBI surveillance video SMOKING CRACK in a hotel room with a former girlfriend (note that Barry was married at the time) will absolutely end your political career. not Barry.

1992: elected to a city council seat. please note that he’d JUST served a six-month sentence for the above conviction and then had the audacity to run on a slogan of “He May Not Be Perfect, But He’s Perfect for DC,” which absolutely says everything you need to know about politics in DC.

Marion Barry smoking crack
“ah, look, it’s our mayor smoking crack! we’d better get him back into a position of authority ASAP!”

2005-2007: Barry decides he’s not paying taxes. well, it’s a little more complicated than that: a mandatory drug test for a hearing related to his IRS troubles showed Barry positive for cocaine and marijuana, which is perhaps unsurprising for anyone who’s been caught on hidden camera SMOKING CRACK. so then he gets probation for not paying federal and local taxes. and then he didn’t file a tax return in 2007, blaming it on dialysis treatment. now, i’m not going to say that it’s impossible for him to have been honestly distracted by medical issues and/or that prosecutors don’t want to “get” him. but frankly, if i’d ever SMOKED CRACK and then got a political job after the fact… well, i’d pay my taxes.

2009: votes against recognizing same-sex marriages on the grounds that it “goes against [his] moral compass”. uh, Barry… weren’t you the guy that SMOKED CRACK in a hotel room with your ex-girlfriend while you were the mayor?

2009: the “alleged stalking.” (with all kinds of respect given to the Washington City Paper with that link there.) here it gets awesome:

Marion Barry
see, even Barry finds his track record to be awesomely ridiculous

basically, this is a case where Barry was a little obsessed with an ex-girlfriend and where there happen to be some recordings confirming as much. that in and of itself could be pretty amusing, but we should note some of the specific revelations that have come out as a result of them:

–when referencing an incident that happened at the Democratic National Convention, Donna Watts-Brighthaupt (Barry’s then-girlfriend) notes to Barry: “you put me out in Denver ’cause I wouldn’t suck your dick!” to be specific, “for reasons that remain murky,” she ended up assigned to Barry’s hotel room, Barry “allegedly asked Watts-Brighthaupt to perform oral sex on him,” she declined, and then Barry threw her clothes out of the room and locked her out, whereupon she slept in a Cadillac Barry had rented. now, while i can see how Barry might have taken issue with her (he clearly had SOME kind of party planned, though there seems to be no evidence of crack)… it seems to me this is not the kind of altercation you want taking place at your party’s national convention.

–Barry was arrested by Park Police officers for allegedly stalking Watts-Brighthaupt, which is fairly sad when you consider that he really hasn’t had much trouble in the past procuring women and/or crack cocaine.

–Barry and Watts-Brighthaupt regularly fought, including public fights, including a scuffle in in the lobby of a hotel in Vegas that Barry’s ex-girlfriend’s ex-husband (how complicated) describes with the remark “she told me she put a shellacking on him.” i’d think a man who could casually toss out “bitch set me up” could at LEAST not get his ass kicked in public… but what do i know?

then he was reduced to calling her and leaving crazy message after crazy message, something that has reduced my image of Barry from “crazy renegade” to just plain old “sad.” i mean, i know the guy’s getting old, but still… hang in there, man! i need a little comedy in this cold, cold world.

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