The Plank

Marion Barry Loses Da Funk

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Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals.  

As a follow-up to Jason's post on the sadly banal nature of Marion Barry's latest personal scandal as compared to his crack-smoking-on-camera classic, I would observe that Barry has also lost a step in his talent for outrageous official positions. 

Back in the day, Barry was best known for his ill-disguised advocacy of the idea that municipal government should exist for the benefit of its employees rather than its citizens. Anyone who had the misfortune of dealing with DC government in the two Barry administrations can attest to the faithfulness with which this principle was applied to virtually every public "service." 

Nowadays, Barry's policy claim to fame is his last-ditch opposition to same-sex marriage, a tired and losing cause. Racial demagoguery is the common denominator of both incarnations of Barry the Outrageous, but the charming rogue of the past has become the cranky reactionary of the present. It's as though George Clinton decided to drift towards retirement performing Easy Listening Classics hawked on late-night TV. 

--Ed Kilgore

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