It was at the very end of an A1 story in the Washington Post. It would have been just another quote, another sound bite that wouldn’t have made a difference. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, after all, tosses out throwaway quotes all the damn time. You know how that goes: We’re just trying to do our best for the residents of the District of Columbia. Or this one: The residents of the District of Columbia deserve the best, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver.
In essence, that’s the very sort of quote the mayor was gearing up to provide a Post reporter who was working on a story about how his brash style was alienating some key constituencies, not to mention former allies. The reporter put the question to Fenty after a press conference, since, as usual, the mayor turned down a request for a sit-down interview. And this is what happened:
During the brief sidewalk interview this month, Fenty rejected the suggestion that moving too quickly can lead to missteps. As a reporter wrote down his remarks, the mayor slowed and dictated even the punctuation of his comment: “When I am in the community, and people are talking about the issues confronting the city, comma, I rarely hear people say, ‘You are moving too fast,’ comma, in fact, more often than not, people are encouraging me to move faster.”
Inexplicable. This publication has taken a whack at explaining why Fenty acts like such a dick sometimes. We figure it has something to do with his maniacal insistence on beginning each day with an “athletic release,” to use Fenty’s own words. Rigorous exercise can certainly affect how people handle stress, but Fenty was so over the top with his workouts, we posited, that it had to account for his snapping at reporters and otherwise just carrying on like a moron.
Now comes the comma incident, and it’s a quote that has legs. It’s arrogance, disrespect, and didacticism all wrapped into one unappealing package. If the polls are right in that Fenty is one the ropes a bit, gee, he certainly isn’t getting the message.
Good on the Washington Post for prosecuting the hell out of the gate-crasher story throughout the holiday weekend. The Thanksgiving plans of many a staffer and editor were doubtless upended after word came that Michaele and Tareq Salahi had sneaked into the Tuesday night White House state dinner. In short order, the Post whipped up a couple of A1 news stories plus a Style backgrounder, among other stories. I watched no TV and felt I got all I needed on this phenomenal series of events.
And now for the Skins. I don’t care how hopeless your season was before the Philly game; I don’t care how many times the O has gone three and out over the course of the year; I don’t care how many no-names are stacked up on the offensive line: If you’ve got the Eagles by the throat late in the game and then let them slip away, that’s going to hurt, it’s going to stick with you as a fan.
Don’t miss this WaPo ombudsman column by Andy Alexander. It’s a great one.