Editorial: Post is wrong again on D.C. politics
September 2, 2010 | by G'town Saucer
Photo by RJSmithThe editorial writers at The Washington Post are doing verbal gymnastics to support Mayor Adrian Fenty’s campaign for re-election. No justification is too far-fetched, no damaging fact can’t be ignored or explained away -- from the Mayor’s claim of no involvement in crony contracts to fraternity brothers (yes, fraternity brothers) to stonewalling the Council, to summarily removing officials who disagree with him.
But editorial writers reached a new low Thursday in their picks for Council At-large and Ward Councilmembers. In particular, they refused to take a position in the At-large Democratic race. They dismissed incumbent Phil Mendelson for “timidity [and] pandering” and challengers Clark Ray for trying “to be all things to people’ and Michael D. Brown for benefiting from “people confusing him with council member Michael A. Brown.”
If anybody in a competitive race deserves the endorsement of The Washington Post, it is Phil Mendelson. He is a full-time, serious (sometimes too serious) Councilmember who has used his oversight powers to put a lid on out-of-control Fire Department overtime, defend civil liberties against aggressive check-points and other illegal tactics of the Metropolitan Police Department, and opposed the secrecy that has become a hallmark of the Fenty administration.
Moreover, in a twelve-year council career, and before that as a Council aide and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, there has never been even a hint of scandal or unsavory behavior on his part, unlike others The Post endorsed. The real difference, the only difference, seems to be whether or not you are a cheerleader for Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
Mendelson, in the editorial page’s eyes, has “done little to support her important work.”
Deaf to the hurricane of anger, hurt, and resentment Fenty, Rhee and the administration have generated in three and a half years, it's as if the Post's editorial writers just keep SHOUTING LOUDER the message readers didn't adopt the first dozen times it was proclaimed from on high.
Meanwhile, the At-large Council race is one in which The Post could play a very important clarifying role. Mendelson is being seriously challenged, not by a demonstratively better candidate, but by a bizarre happenstance of names: a recent poll shows that D.C. voters believe that popular black Councilmember Michael A. Brown is running against Mendelson. He is not. Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown, who is on the ballot as “Michael Brown,” is set to pick up a substantial number of votes. The “Michael Brown” on the ballot is not seen at campaign events, is not answering phone calls and has no finance committee. This Michael Brown has only one issue: "make D.C.'s statehood a focus for the council."
All of this might be less worrisome but for the fact that, no matter what happens in the Mayoral campaign, the Council will lose the skillful leadership and experience of Vincent Gray, now running for the city's top job. The Council needs the strength and commitment of Phil Mendelson more than ever.
Post editorial writers, including Jo-Ann Armao, a principal voice of the paper, seem so far out of touch with the reality of District affairs and politics -- not to mention the paper's own daily reporting -- we are forced to wonder if editorial writers read it or anything else to inform their opinions.
The Georgetown Dish suggests The Post adopt a residency requirement for Armao and others who seek to offer electoral advice to District residents. Attorney General Peter Nickles has a residency requirement (although rumors are he rents an apartment in Penn Quarter while commuting regularly to his home in Virginia). Other officials have to live here. Why not The Post's editorial writers? Otherwise, if you don't get it, maybe you just won't get it.