Marion Barry, master of the universe

January 2, 2013

He’s humble, too! (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Marion Barry was sworn in Wednesday to his third consecutive term as the D.C. Council member for Ward 8, thus starting his 15th year as a council member and his 33rd year in public office.

In that time, no doubt, Barry has accomplished much — which was certainly reflected in the biography printed in the official program for the swearing-in ceremony: “The impact of his influence, tenacity, ‘big vision,’ unparalleled work ethic and endurance can be felt by every resident and visitor of the Nation’s Capital,” the bio read.

Sure, on the margins, you can argue with that statement, but it’s hard to deny Barry’s imprint on the city. However, another sentence in the program might give both historians and political aficionados some pause: “Barry is principally responsible for the revitalization of downtown, the development of Georgetown, the east and west end, the resurgence of the U street corridor, the rebirth of H Street, and the renaissance of the Anacostia community.”

So have no doubt: It was Marion Barry, rather than any planner, developer, banker or fellow politician, who is ultimately responsible for the prosperity of the District’s most thriving neighborhoods. Who knows how many more he’ll be able to get to in the next four years?

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · January 2, 2013