Marion Barry Says Rob Ford Is “Making a Fool of Himself”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 15 2014 11:44 AM

Marion Barry Says Rob Ford Is “Making a Fool of Himself”

188110889-toronto-mayor-rob-ford-is-swarmed-by-media-at-city-hall
He's no Marion Barry, according to Marion Barry

Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images

The latest edition of my interview podcast was taped at D.C.'s Carolina Kitchen, with a guest who can eat wherever he likes in this city: Marion Barry. The four-term mayor and third-term councilman (he has been easily re-elected since he made a 2004 comeback to represent the city's poorest ward) has just published a memoir, and we used that as the starting point for a discussion of gentrification, drugs, crime, and politics.

We also talked about Rob Ford. Sorry, but I couldn't resist. Ford is still running for re-election in Toronto, and he's become a kind of laughingstock, but it struck me that the coverage of Barry after his 1990 arrest (during an FBI sting operation) was so much less forgiving, more outraged—darker—then what greeted Ford. 

"He’s not connected to me," Barry said. "He doesn't have my historical record of achievement. My record is so far better. As far as his use of drugs and alchohol, he's making a fool of himself and"—Barry shook his head*—"he's making a fool of himself. He shouldn't use the fact of him using drugs as an excuse for being a fool. I sympathize with him. I know what he's going through. But I don't agree with what he's doing."

Advertisement

Barry's latest comments about Ford have been picked up by Canada's Globe and Mail. He's hard to dispute, as Ford looks set to be a one-term mayor with a legacy limited to some labor contract negotiations, transport funds diverted from a rail extension, and ... well, the crack. But Barry ruled D.C. for 18 years, and you can't talk about either the diverse public workforce (and black middle class) or about the damage of the crack wars without considering Barry. I was struck by how the mayor actually brought up his 1990 arrest before I did.

*It's hard to hear that on the tape.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Sports Nut

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 18 2014 12:47 PM How One of the Most Prolific Known Forgers in Modern History Faked Great Works of Art
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 1:47 PM The Only 15 Netflix Hacks You’ll Ever Need
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.