City Paper is not for tourists
These people are just too, too tiresome, sighed Ms. Loose Lips, as she looked down upon the assembled group of 30 or so African-American and white activists—Democrats, Republicans, Statehood Greens, independents—who were calling for the recall of Mayor Anthony A. Williams. What possesses this “ragtag smattering of mayoral critics” [Loose Lips, 1/23] to so annoy me with their prattle about the mayor closing down the city’s only public hospital and creating a health-care crisis with his privatization plan? she wondered.
Why do they go on and on about inadequate school funding, about the mayor’s love affair with congressionally imposed Republican school-voucher schemes, about libraries funded below the level of cities in Third World countries, about the mayor undermining home rule and his belief that statehood is a swear word? About the mayor ignoring murders in certain residential neighborhoods, about the mayor’s misplaced priorities, including promises of almost $1 billion in public financing to build a baseball stadium for millionaire investors and a convention-center hotel for the tourism industry while he does little for the homeless and low-income residents?
Why are they always so exercised about such trifles as the fraudulent petitions during the mayor’s re-election campaign, and the ethical scandals that seem to crop up as regularly as the changing of the seasons? Why don’t they just go buy a nice million-dollar condo in the mayor’s fabulous new downtown and quit their carping?
But Ms. Loose Lips, despite her cynicism and ennui, knew these annoying people wouldn’t go away, and deep down she had a nagging feeling that this bunch of “Wile E. Coyote figures” just might pull it off and get the recall on the ballot next November. She had a weapon, though: a snotty column that would ridicule this bunch of naysayers.
And so she wrote about one of the recall activists as a man who owns a “beat-up pickup truck equipped with a loudspeaker” and who goes around decrying “the lack of construction jobs for African-American District residents.” Imagine that, she thought. Here in the year 2004, someone so gauche as to fight for jobs for African-Americans! And then, she mused, the activists include that champion of “left-oriented causes” who “wears distinctive Elvis Costello glasses,” and that woman who tried to highlight D.C.’s lack of voting rights by refusing to cast her vote for Al Gore in the 2000 Electoral College.
“Who do these people think they are?” she muttered to her editor. “I don’t know much about politics or really care about any of these mundane issues, but I do know vehicles and eyewear and proper decorum in the Electoral College, and I know that people who drive beat-up pickup trucks and who wear certain kinds of glasses and who ignore Electoral College etiquette are not the kind of people we want out there telling us about the good mayor’s shortcomings.”
And so she wrote her column, perhaps hoping that some ragtag senior citizen would write a snippy letter to the editor, complaining of the latest snippy column by the ragtag columnist in the ragtag weekly.