On a scale of one to 10 - where one is a Cincinnati mayor's 60-day jail term for failure to file income taxes, and 10 is a Syracuse mayor's 10 years for extortion - Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's sentence for cocaine possession falls at about the right spot. Though finally contrite in court on Friday, Barry earned every hour of his six months.
As the senior elected official of the nation's capital, Barry publicly battled the drug scourge that gave his city a record-breaking murder rate. He routinely lectured inner-city youths on pride and self-improvement. All the while - though he repeatedly denied it - he himself was a cokehead, an alcoholic and a chronic philanderer. No-nonsense punishment is fitting for such a repulsive betrayal of the public trust.