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Barry the 'Betrayed'

It’s a hoot to observe the ease with which Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry cloaks himself in the mantle of the “betrayed” whenever he finds himself in a tight spot. And, true to form, that’s just what we got after he was arrested on a stalking charge over the weekend. “The best word to describe Mr. Barry at this hour is betrayed,” said the spokeswoman he trotted out.

It’s hard to know what to make of this latest drama -- who’s zooming whom, why Barry and political consultant Donna Watts-Brighthaupt and Watts-Brighthapt’s ex-husband were all in Anacostia Park, and how Barry ended up in U.S. Park Service Police custody. Barry and Barry’s spokespeople and Watts-Brighthaupt and the police have all given different accounts. Perhaps we should leave it to the U.S. Attorney's office to sort out.

But after writing about Barry for nearly 20 years, I do know that “betrayal” has been a recurring theme in his life. Here’s just a sample from The Post archives:

  • March 10, 1998: Barry said of a confidant believed to have aided federal authorities in a probe of the D.C. government, "[he] has betrayed my trust in him, and he also betrayed the trust of the office of the mayor.'"
  • March 11, 1985: "The mayor [Barry], repeating what for him has become an economic mantra, said Congress has financially betrayed the District."
  • Oct 28, 1990: Concerning Jesse Jackson's endorsement of a Barry opponent in his bid for an At Large Council seat, "This week, [Barry] said Jackson 'betrayed' him."
  • Aug. 9, 2004: Barry's pastor, the Rev. Willie F. Wilson endorsed another Barry opponent years later. That bothered Barry, who said he felt betrayed by his longtime friend.

Someone is always violating poor ol' Marion, to let Barry tell it.

The truth is that it’s Marion Barry -- the four-term mayor, the multi-term council member, one of the longest-tenured public officials in the District of Columbia -- who has repeatedly, and without any semblance of shame, betrayed the public by his willful disregard for the standards of behavior for officials in a position of trust. Whether he has a crack pipe in hand, or has failed to pay his taxes, or has one foot in the nursing home and is still chasing skirts, Barry is always the victim -- even as he victimizes himself, his office and his city.

By Colbert King  | July 6, 2009; 6:29 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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You have some nerve moralizing about others. You stand mute as all those who have had faith in your integrity over the years are "betrayed" by the open market sale of influence and access by the regime currently in charge at the Post. You should be every bit as ashamed as Marion Barry for betrayiing the public trust.
The scandal is 4 days old now Colby and you are silent, you are on the editorial board after all, and yet you moralize about Marion Barry.

Posted by: SoCali | July 6, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this the same Marion Barry that is against recognition of same-sex marriages in D.C.? ... he has his nerve!

Posted by: paris1969 | July 6, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

What a waste of police resources.

Based on the press accounts, ex-Mayor Barry was just chillin' and illin', which is hardly a misdemeanor and barely bad manners. Evidently, again based on press accounts, it looks like the "victim" wanted her 15 minutes of "fame." Leave this poor guy alone.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 6, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Let us not the greatest Barry betrayal of all, the one that sold 10,000 T-shirts: "The God D#%n B!#ch Set Me Up!"

Oh, and the Feds betrayed his confidentiality for not keeping secret that he wasn't paying taxes.

It's always been the World who's at fault. Barry is above reproach.

Posted by: Ultramarine | July 6, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

@ SoCali - Do you ever bother reading Colby's columns or just launch ad hominem attacks? King writes about the area and if you want to read about the Post's actions, then read the apology by the publisher or the Ombudsman's denunciation.

That and get off that pedestal. You'll give yourself a nose bleed.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 6, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

"Look at our Lord's disciples. One denied Him; one doubted Him; one betrayed Him. If our Lord couldn't have perfection, how are you going to have it in city government?"
Richard Daley

Posted by: martymar123 | July 6, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

and wasn't it the beloved mayor that whimpered, in midst of lighting his crack stem in that hotel room, "That %^$#@ set me up!"

Posted by: johndamian_94 | July 6, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Please, can't Barry simply retire? He is 71 years old and still chasing skirts -- or rather stalking them --. What is it with this man that he cannot stay out of trouble?

Posted by: Gatsby1 | July 6, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

And black people still vote for him. The man is a horrible leader, a drug addict, and a nut, and black people just can't get enough of him.

Black America is once again committing suicide and trying to claim that it's being murdered.

Posted by: mlincoln1 | July 6, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

HEeeeyyYYyeyee Yall!!!....Tyrone Biggums here...Now ya'll needs to leave Marion alones...He aint done nothing wrong to nobody...Let the first man without sine throw the first rock....Speaking of ROCKS...Hey Ya'll!!!

Posted by: andio76 | July 6, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be so quick to dump on ole Marion this time. I think this crazy broad really did betray him. It appears that she ratted him out to save face in front of her ex-husband (whom she can't seem to keep "ex" enough). Really strange that she was hanging out with him all day and then all of sudden he's stalking her? Let's not forget that her "ex" husband had recently threatened Marion Barry and was banned from the City Council chambers. Beeyotch please!

Posted by: PepperDr | July 6, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King, I think your judgment (in more ways than one) is quite premature, irresponsible and uncalled for. I'm sure Mr. Barry is not an expert in moral rectitude, but on the scale of politicians we've seen lately he's a Mother Theresa. I know you've given yourself an 'out' by not proclaiming his guilt or innocence of the charges, which I approve, but your preemptive hit piece is self-righteous and sanctimonious. Although, I will admit that it seems entirely consistent with the new "All The Slander We See Fit To Print" mantra of the Washington Post these days.

Posted by: LucyLou1 | July 6, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The people that keep voting for this loser ought to rethink their value system and raise their levels of expectation and standards. Think about's simple: Elect enough crooked people and you have a crooked government. Wake up..unless it's what you expect.

Posted by: birnster | July 6, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Hizzoner is by far the most fun to watch of any politician. Every year or two something still comes out of that man that you can't stop laughing about. Using kidney failure as an excuse for not paying taxes for eight of nine years was, well, amazing. Now that he got that kidney, he appears to be putting it to, well, not-so-good use.

Posted by: Martial | July 6, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's about time for Congress to step in and lay down the law, first one being that criminals can't be on the ballot, second one being that until Eleanor Holmes Norton , et al, get their city cleaned up, the one that's supposed to be a special place as the capital city of America, they can forget about getting a vote on ANYTHING, third one being that the DC WILL NOT INFRINGE ON ANY OF THE RESIDENTS' RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT to protect themselves from the thugs walking around.

Posted by: chatard | July 6, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

This is all very funny - these ridiculous situations Barry creates for himself time and again. But then you realize he's in a position of power (albeit diminished), and it becomes more frightening than funny.

Posted by: wdc1 | July 6, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

What I wouldn't pay to get all these Uncle Clarence Thomas outta MY RACE....



Posted by: danson1 | July 7, 2009 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Well said, Mr. King.

Posted by: nicekid | July 7, 2009 4:20 AM | Report abuse

When we all realize the gold-diggers-big-breasted/butts of BLACK women are for some just irrestible and some BLACK men jsut cannot do without their kind. Us dudes living in DC or Metro area understand the SE product (women/honies/grabbers/etc. etc.)and thereby grants Marion Barry, DC Democratic Councilmember a free pass for all that azz he procures.
No, I would not trust him alone with my wife or my 35 year-old daughter, but he otherwise is good for our city and we blacks accept the flaws and hogmaws!!!

Posted by: truthbeebold | July 7, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

He still has the backing of his race and thats why he continues to re-emerge...its all because of all of you.. No matter what he does you cant see beyond the skin color.

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | July 7, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

chatard wrote: "...until Eleanor Holmes Norton , et al, get their city cleaned up, the one that's supposed to be a special place as the capital city of America, they can forget about getting a vote on ANYTHING..."

And since California's finances are in such a holy mess, better take the vote away from those folks while you're at it....

Posted by: martymar123 | July 7, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

The tag "one foot in a nursing home" was a personal uncalled for insult. You can do better basing your opinion on the facts Mr. King. I understand that you are near Barry's age, as well.

Posted by: freedom20 | July 7, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Good column Mr. King. Sadly, as evidenced by a number of the comment posters here, there are still people who will continue to support him and believe he can do no wrong - or worse yet, that the wrongs he does should always be forgiven/overlooked. I don't know what is wrong with the people of DC, but they deserve what they get from their elected officials.

Posted by: singlemom | July 7, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I applaud your sense, Mr. King, for stating what many deluded individuals in DC (ie. those who keep voting for him/bailing him out) are too blind and ignorant to see. His lack of ethics and respect for himself and the citizens of DC is truly disgusting. But more disgusting is the community that continues to put him up on a pedestal. Absolutely disgusting.

Posted by: valamondo | July 7, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

is this the same guy who not long ago said blacks will never accept gays? i think so..well, marion, gays will never accept you.

Posted by: rmcgolden | July 7, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Marion Barry does not have a shred of dignity or self-respect left. While his pathetic lifestyle begs compassion and charity, his fame ensures that this public spectacle will continue to bring shame to the District. One can only hope that all the drugs he consumes will soon knock out his failing organs once and for all, because as long as he's alive he's going to cling to whatever power he can and continue to make an a$$ of himself and the city he claims to love.

Posted by: monongahela79 | July 7, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The whole "betrayal" thing probably resonates with Barry's constituency - poor Black people how feel betrayed by government and society. As long as he can convince them that he's a victim of white oppression, he'll keep getting their votes. His constant indulging in strange, ghetto-dude behavior probably helps, too. Makes him a true man of the people...

Posted by: telesonic | July 7, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

When they talk about the former Mayor and the District, it only brings to mind the song from the Serendipity Singers:

Now this crooked little man and his crooked cat and mouse
They all lived together in a crooked little house
Has a crooked door with a crooked little latch
That's a crooked group with the crooked little patch

Perhaps we can agree on one thing: Maybe Marion Berry did wonderful things for his constituents in DC in the early years, but hasn't the last 20 years or so made those "accomplishments" simply a joke?

Send him off to that nursing home and move into the future DC!

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | July 7, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh come on, the classic criminal denial, it is never about the guilty party, lets blame everone else especially the white society...everything that happens to african americans is always the fault of the white society.......the ever present shame of slavery.......well back to AG Holder's response that we are afraid to have that race about this ...when African American Men stop breeding for the fun of it and start rearing families begining with insuring their children work at getting an education then the next generation of young black children can begin the recovery of an entire race of people....STOP BEING VICTIMS...Accept your responsibilities and move on....or at least stop blaming everyone else.

Posted by: TBsportsguy | July 7, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

oh My another black victim......

Posted by: TBsportsguy | July 7, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

It's like this folks, What ever he does in his life, is HS business, we vote for him, because of what he does for us, the residents of Southeast Washington|DC and most of the Black People here HE helps US, and that's the FINAL WORD

Posted by: onesugar1 | July 7, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Kwame Kilpatrick's role model. Everyone should have a mentor I guess...

Posted by: realworld51 | July 7, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

to: onesugar1

marion needs to be in jail..i am sure you can find someone else to represent southeast D.C..

Posted by: rmcgolden | July 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

to: onesugar1

marion needs to be in jail..i am sure you can find someone else to represent southeast D.C..

Posted by: rmcgolden | July 7, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Her parts tastes so good that Colonel Barry just can't get enough. Finger lickin good.

Posted by: mintchocolatechip | July 7, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King, you ARE right. Barry needs to go away. He is an embarrassment. Every time you look up there's another "scandal" involving Marion S. Barry.
Somebody tell me what he did for SEDC? Please tell me. Jobs for youths? What else?
He's a joke now.
He had his day, now go away.

Posted by: VIVinUM | July 7, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I moved away from DC over twenty years ago, and I still can't believe that crook Marion Barry is still around.

It's Astonishing!

Then DC wonders why most people don't believe DC should be self-governing?

Posted by: whsmhrth1 | July 7, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

When I heard you say on CSPAN you were going to be 70 I found it hard to believe. You act mature and I wish you could teach the same to your contemporary. As a DC Employee I can assure you the loyalty to this character is deep and hard to fathom, mostly with the over-55 crowd. When the President returns, I hope he passes health care soon and I hope IT IS RATIONED--we could do without the doctors that preyed and profited on Michael Jackson's demons, and I am reminded of how wasteful I thought it was when Mickey Mantle scored a liver transplant. In my ideal health care universe, lawyers would not profit from malpractice, and people like Marion Barry would get in line behind everyone else, especially young people. What is his attraction to the women? His prostate's gone, and hes functioning on a female kidney. But worst of all, we see with Obama, what standards can be met by an African American male of personal morals, even in the political sphere? And having witnessed that, why like the scriptures say, do we dogs return to our vomit? Marion Barry, take a tip from Sarah Palin.

Posted by: watcher137 | July 8, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

First I'd like to point out chatard, that I used to live on Mr. Barry's Ward and I would walk often quite secure in that area. Second, I find it amusing that people love to bash DC's dysfunction as a reason not to give its residents representation and to rescind Home Rule (the meager rights the city has to govern itself). As someone else pointed out California is issuing IOUs and is just as dysfunctional as DC, and its impact is 1000 times bigger to boot. Perhaps we should remove its 53 Representatives and 2 Senators. Closer to home, we have Pennsylvania still without a budget, should we be removing its 19 Representatives and 2 Senators if they don't come to an agreement?

Now as a former resident of Ward 8 who happened to have lived when Barry was elected, I find him a sad figure who however represents the sense us vs City Hall in this, the poorest part of the city. The fact is this man actually rode the buses with people asking for their vote and had his City Council headquarters right smack in the middle of one of the poorest sections of his Ward. People in Ward 8 relate to him because he is seen as one of them.

Finaly, the stalking charges were dropped. However, there is still the question of ethical considerations and conflict of interest questions.

Basically, although someone that is the source of ridicule of others, and who I would never vote even for City Dogcatcher, I can understand his sway over his Ward. Hence, his monicker "Mayor for Life". Of course others use Barry's hijinks as open season to put down DC and feel superior when they don't see the dysfunction in their own backyards.

Posted by: Kruhn1 | July 9, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Most impressive was Mr. Barry's press conference, which recused itself from questions.

Posted by: Martial | July 11, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

You called it, Colby. Except you forgot to mention the all-time stand-by explanation for every single criticism of Marion Barry, up to and including the City Paper cover this week: "white racism."

After so many years, it is *almost* amusing if it wasn't so pathetic. Except that to this day that explanation seems to get an emphatic welcome by Ward 8 residents, who themselves use it to explain away most of their woes.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | July 11, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

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