Editorial: Post is wrong again on D.C. politics

Photo by RJSmith
D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson is faces a challenge from ballot confusion
D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson is faces a challenge from ballot confusion
The 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.

0 Comments For This Article


Correction: Peter Nickles does not live in the District, he lives in Northern Virginia, Falls Church to be exact.

David Abrams

I so totally disagree with your ringing endorsement of Phil Mendelson over Clark Ray. I live on 26th Street, NW and have never, ONCE, heard from Mr Mendelson, ABOUT ANYTHING. I have contacted his office on several occasions about DDOT issues, DPW issues and Parks & Recreation issues and have never, ONCE, received any help at all. He is a disgrace to the At-Large office and needs to be ousted. His staff has no constituent track record and does not even have the courtesy to return repeated efforts to contact him about legitimate isues! He appears to serve only a select few. He may win again this fall, but it will be a darn shame.

Peter Rosenstein

Actually I agree the Post is wrong to base all their arguments on Michelle Rhee. But they do have it right that Mendelson voted against school reform and never even went to one hearing on it that Michelle Rhee attended. Hard to claim any credit or even interest in school reform with that record. In addition he is recognized as weak on crime- told a constituent that "crime is no longer a legislative issue". Well if that is the case why is he running? He has never spoken up on the economic situation that anyone can tell as well.

My disagreement with the Post is that they should have endorsed Clark Ray. He is the one with the best positions on education and public safety. He does support education reform but has asked that it be more open and transparent and involve parents more. He has put his life on the line as a reserve police officer with the MPD and committed to returning as a reserve officer if he is elected to the Council. He has called for releasing the names of all escapees from DYRS.

Clark Ray as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation is responsible for opening the first of the Districts Dog Parks because after years of squabbling he could get those for and opposed to them to sit down and agree on guidelines.

Clark Ray will bring new energy, new ideas and an ability to get people to work together to the Council. That is what we need in this City. Vote Clark Ray Council at-Large.


Thank you for expressing my thoughts exactly. The Post is rapidly becoming less and less relevant. Jo-Ann Armao is completely out of touch.


I agree with the Dish and also find it a bit to coincidental that the Post would make this move the day after Phil endorsed Gray for mayor. I'm left wondering if the outcome would have have different had Phil endorsed the Post's candidate. I guess Cheh is lucky she's unopposed but wouldn't be surprised if they have some sort of editorial after she endorsed the Chairman. I am a Ward 3 resident who has just canceled my WaPo subscription. Hope others do the same.


I salute this editorial, because The Post long ago stopped practicing journalism. This is why their circulation numbers continue to tumble. Amaro is in the Fenty pocket, sad to say. She ignores reality.

I, for one, cannot wait for the election post-mortem analysis, wherein The Post will say the city has taken a turn for the worse and racial politics are alive and thriving.

The paper wants to prey on racial fears to ignite a Fenty win. How petty and how sad.

At some point, many readers will cancel their subscriptions out of disgust. At least that's my hope. Only then will the Graham family hear Grande Dame Katharine's words that integrity is paramount to good journalism and Buffet's dictum that you got to make a profit or go under.

Clearly, the current regime of sycophants have yet to listen. They will, and soon.


Hear it from the Council colleagues who know Mendelson best:


Gray, Catania, Kwame Brown, Tommy Wells