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

Weigel
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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM What Happens When You Serve McDonald’s to Food Snobs and Tell Them It’s Organic
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 4:36 PM Vampire Porn Mindgeek is a cautionary tale of consolidating production and distribution in a single, monopolistic owner.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.