ONCE AGAIN Mayor Barry has taken stock of himself and found love and vindication where not everybody else may. This time Marion Barry acknowledges smoking crack cocaine at the Vista Hotel in January and then offers an inspiring summation of his influence as a statesman: "I may be a poor role model, but . . . being a poor role model is not a crime." That's true: no one in recent memory has been tried here on charges of being a poor role model. What is a crime is smoking crack; and what is another crime is lying to a grand jury about smoking crack. And this is what the scheduled trial of Mr. Barry is all about.

But the man who is mayor offers his own warped perspective on this kind of conduct, a message that Washington's youth as well as their elders should find anything but inspiring or reassuring. Asked about the effects of any testimony by former associates on doing drugs with the mayor, Mr. Barry replies, "What's the worst they could say, that I used cocaine with them? I think if you talk to most Washingtonians -- even my supporters have some inklings that they may think I have done that. . . . So if they testify I'd used cocaine with them before, that's not damaging. People already think that. A lot of people do."

So don't worry about it, children -- just take it on faith from your mayor that the bad people in this story are the federal authorities who tried to "kill" him by allowing him to consume a potent dose of an illegal substance. Don't even worry about what kinds of doses of illegal substances may have been shared on the occasions that the former associates of Mr. Barry apparently are prepared to testify about.

Mr. Barry is entitled to his day in court, and that is where the legal determinations will be made. But Mr. Barry long ago lost any moral entitlement to lead the local government, and his latest cavalier self-analysis merely reinforces this fact.