Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back Off Of Barry...

R2C2H2 Tha Artivist & Marion Barry In Memphis, Tn @ A Rally To Save The NCRM

Del Waters Followed Barry For Years. Now, He Says, It’s Time To Stop
Monday, July 13, 2009
By Del Waters

Few people in Washington know Marion Barry better than I do. As an investigative reporter for the ABC affiliate here, I spent five years waiting for him to come out of door, exit cars and spent countless hours pouring through every document that bore his name. That said, I feel it is necessary to ask, if not beg, my fellow journalists to move on. Not because I think Marion isn’t guilty of most of the crimes he is accused of, he is. It is instead because he has become a whipping boy in a system that has far bigger problems.

Marion Barry is an aging politician whose better days died in a hotel room where he was busted smoking crack cocaine with a woman who, along with the FBI, set him up. He went to rehab, to jail and then returned to the city and ran for political office again. Everyone outside of Washington wonders why? He runs because he isn’t qualified for any other job.

There is a political dead end in Washington for politicians. Once you become mayor the Peter Principle takes effect. There is no Governor of Washington D.C., or Senator and its Congressman can’t vote. So once your achieve the office of Mayor it is downhill from there. If you resign in scandal it’s over. The problem is, how does a washed up politician with all of that fame and fortune support himself, his family? No one paid Marion Barry millions of dollars to write his political epitaph as so often is the case.

There is also Marion Barry the man. During his trial it was revealed that he abused crack, heroin and alcohol. He also abused countless women. His body is shot; plagued by a lifestyle that betrays all who follow it. A recent kidney transplant served as proof. Effi Barry, his longtime wife who stood by his side passed away and all others are gone too. He is, in a very real sense, already trapped inside the nightmare his own actions created.

Since the episode inside the Vista Hotel, where he was busted using crack, the following politicians have been involved in some sort of scandal. Bill Clinton, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, Elliot Spitzer of New York, James McGreevey of New Jersey, and the list goes on and on and on and on. As I have written in previous articles Spitzer was arrested by the same FBI in the same city around the corner from the hotel where Barry was arrested and yet I recently saw him on a major network serving as an analyst on why Wall Street needed to be policed. Talk about redemption.

None of us can forget the name of Marion Barry’s paramour, Rasheeda Moore, but what is the name of the woman Mark Sanford went to visit in Argentina? What happened to those headlines? Did we forget that Sanford was one of those who stood up and declared Bill Clinton an embarrassment? Or have we forgotten that Mark Sanford was one of the few Governors who turned down the stimulus money because he preached fiscal responsibility at the same time he couldn’t keep his own house in order?

Then there is Sarah Palin. Here is a woman who was one heartbeat away from the Presidency. She resigned because she couldn’t take 1/100th the pressure that Marion Barry took. She said it was tough on her family, and her state. No one has suffered more than the family of Marion Barry or the people of the District of Columbia who for years have had to suffer through the humiliation. Palin is now headed to the speaker’s circuit and a $7 million dollar book deal.

So why do I defend Marion Barry’s right to be left alone when his actions dictate otherwise?

Quite simply there are bigger fish and larger problems to fry. When I too believed that Marion Barry was Public Enemy #1, an elderly woman approached me inside Ben’s Chili Bowl and asked me if I was the reporter who was harassing her mayor? When I said yes, she smacked me over the head with a rolled up paper. Moments later, when she returned, I thought she was coming to apologize. Instead she smacked me even harder. Her words never left me. She asked me if I would pursue other politicians of different persuasions as aggressively as I did Barry if I got the chance. I promised her I would.

When George W. Bush came to Washington my investigative unit set out to apply the same standards to the Bush administration as we did the Barry administration. Suddenly and without explanation my job of 22 years came to an end and my investigative unit was done away with.

Barry embarrassed himself, a city and all those around him and pays for it each and every day he lives. If this latest episode where he was accused of stalking someone were news, half of Congress would have to be locked up. I know, it was my job to know, and as an old woman with a rolled up newspaper reminded me, it was also my job to be an equal opportunity pain in the butt of politicians.

So on that note I ask only one question. Who did more to harm America, Marion Barry or George W. Bush? If it is Barry then reporters should continue to cover him everywhere he goes. If not, where is George W. Bush these days? And Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld?

Del Walters is the Producer/Director of Apocalypse Africa Made in America and an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter.

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