Marion Barry has earned many monikers in his day: Hizzoner, Mayor for Life, and Night Owl, to name a few.
After watching the once-brilliant politician let racial epithets slip from his lips, we might want to come up with a new nickname: How about Uncle Marion, or Grandpa, or simply Pop-Pop?
Last month our former mayor offended Asians by accusing them of running crappy, dirty stores in Ward 8, where he now serves as council member. Then he dissed a second nationality by insinuating that Filipino nurses were taking up jobs that should be going to DC residents. And yesterday, when he was trying to mend fences with Asians, he referred to people of Polish descent as “Polacks.”
Marion Barry is not a mean-spirited racist. A product of the Civil Rights struggle, he truly believes in diversity and equality and openness. But Barry is getting old. He’s 76. Perhaps it’s time we started to look at him as a sweet old fellow who just says whatever comes to mind.
With age comes license to talk. Past the age of 75, the connection between the mind and tongue can become direct, without the benefit or bother of an editor. We all have witnessed the great-uncle or -aunt who blurts out inappropriate things at the Thanksgiving table.
That could be what we are witnessing with Uncle Marion.
Keep in mind that Barry has been the smartest politician in town for more than 40 years. As he dominated politics in DC from the day he arrived in 1965, he displayed a genius at running the government and running for office. He knew every budget number, every regulation, every voter, it seemed.
It’s kind of sad to see him become a babbling old fellow before our eyes.