July 16, 2014

Lessons from the "All politics is local" file - Barry vs. Ford

The Marion Barry sting.
Yesterday I wrote about the small conservative South Carolina town that rebelled against their mayor in support of an openly gay police chief that he had fired.  One of the lessons from the issue that I neglected to point out was that local activism will usually result in a more immediate change or have a stronger impact than trying to do the same at a  statewide or national level.  Enough local impact combined can then have a statewide impact and so too national impact down the road.  After all, the local story about the police chief actually bubbled up to the national level.  Liberals use the slogan "Think globally, act locally" to considerable effect.

Today I'm sharing another example of "All politics is local", with a different lesson attached to it.  

The liberal Huffington Post had a story about former Washington D.C., and convicted crack consumer, Marion Barry talking about Toronto mayor Rob Ford:

Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C. who was once caught on camera smoking crack cocaine, says Rob Ford is making a "fool of himself." Barry also thinks the mayor of Toronto is using his substance abuse issues as an excuse for his behaviour.

A former four-term mayor and current city councillor, Barry was arrested for crack cocaine use and possession in a 1990 FBI sting operation involving a former girlfriend turned informant.

The FBI captured video of Barry appearing to smoke crack and he served six months in federal prison. However, his jail time actually resulted from a conviction for possession related to an incident in 1989.

Barry was again elected mayor in 1994, after telling his opponents and detractors to "get over it."

Marion Barry is clearly irony impaired.  He wanted his detractors to get over his stumbles, while himself not affording the same courtesy to Rob Ford.  But the lesson here is something else.  People in Toronto are in the midst of a municipal election campaign. And while many in the city are against Rob Ford, they certainly don't want their city's reputation and troubles dragged through the mud all over the world.  
Too late for that now, but most of Rob Ford's detractors were angered by his visit to the Jimmy Kimmel show earlier this year.  The point is simple - this is in our house we wanted it kept with here, and dealt with here. And if you aren't part of this house, keep your opinions to yourself.

That extends to not only Ford, but to Marion Barry.  Topped up with his irony impaired comments, no one here is going to take him seriously.  So who is he talking to about this situation?  Or more importantly, why?  Really for Marion Barry, his comments are more to do with himself than Rob Ford.  Ford happens to be a springboard for Barry to continue to clean his own image - look how badly Rob Ford is behaving.  I made mistakes but I was never as off the rails as this guy.

Yeah.  Right.

Rob Ford, having returned from rehab is back in the mayoral race.  He's hardly the ideal candidate to carry the common sense banner for local issues, but no one else is doing it right now.  What happens in the municipal election in Toronto depends more on that than anything anyone outside the city has to say.

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