Marion “The Bitch set me up” Barry has passed away. He was 78, so it was probably just old age. Not an overdose of crack cocaine. Not a heart attack from banging too many hookers while he was doing the crack cocaine. He survived all that. He survived a conviction, and a few years in prison, and served as mayor again.
Much like Rob Ford today, there were a whole lot of people who thought he was just great, despite all the corruption, and being a total scofflaw and a party animal.
It seems there will always be people in politics like this. People with flamboyant personalities who are convinced they can get away with anything. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that politics is the natural domain of narcissistic personalities. Primary Colors is the film that expressed that best. When John Travolta, playing Governor Jack Stanton, who was obviously supposed to be Bill Clinton, threw his mobile phone out of the car window, Emma Thompson, playing Susan Stanton, who was obviously supposed to be Hillary, shouted “Stop!,” made the driver back up, and had everybody out beating the bushes in the dark for the missing phone. After the phone was found, and they were getting ready to drive off again, Travolta/Stanton/Clinton said “Well, you wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t thrown it there in the first place.”
The second reason is that lots of them do get away with it, forever. Most of the people in Congress today, and at least half of U.S. Governors, are just as corrupt as Barry was, and just as fond of sleeping with people other than the ones they are actually married to. Probably only a handful of them do as much coke but, seriously, Marion Barry did a superhuman amount of coke.
So, there will be more Marion Barrys, and more Rob Fords. Because every city has a mayor, and the mayor’s chair is an absolute magnet for narcissistic personalities, and people with narcissistic personalities think they are so awesome nobody will call them on it if they go nuts.
And sometimes, like Marion Barry or Rob Ford, they get away with it.