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Rob Ford vs. Marion Barry: Who said it best?

Washington, D.C. Councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry might have a thing or two to teach Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP, File) Washington, D.C. Councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry might have a thing or two to teach Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP, File)

There’s something familiar in the unfolding of the scandal involving Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who on Tuesday admitted to smoking crack (but not all the time! And in his defense, he says he was drunk.).

Maybe it feels like deja vu because Ford’s saga has so much in common with that of former mayor and now D.C. City Council member Marion Barry. Both men were mayors when their drug scandals broke (Barry’s was in 1989), both were apparently caught on video smoking crack, and both men possess a certain bombast that makes their legal travails oh-so-entertaining.

Our pals over at the DC Sports Bog even detected a clue that further connects the men: at his news conference/confessional on Tuesday Ford sported a tie bearing a prominent Redskins logo.

In fact, we couldn’t help but find parallels in some of Barry and Ford’s most memorable soundbites. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

On the incriminating evidence:

Barry: “B**** set me up.”

Ford: “Number one, there is no video, so that’s all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.”

The reassurance:

Barry: “Now, tomorrow, I can’t promise you. I can’t promise myself. It’s one day at a time.”

Ford: “I can assure people, hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

On extenuating circumstances:

Barry: “I’m a night owl.”

Ford: “Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”

On trifling amounts of intoxicants:

Barry: “Possession? With what, intent to use? That, little, that little bit, that, that little speck?

Ford: “Did I have a couple beers? Absolutely I had a couple beers.”

Blaming the media: 

Barry: “The (Washington) Post has decided my time’s up, that’s all.”

Ford: Toronto Star reporters are “pathological liars.”


Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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Al Kamen · November 5, 2013

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