The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Politics As Unusual

The city of Washington, D.C., has a new mayor, and in a room full of people he'd be the last one you probably notice.

His name is Tony Williams, an almost-nerdy African-American financial numbers cruncher. He neither looks nor sounds the part of a big-city politician.

For example, the other day the Washington Post asked him how he intended to bring the city's racially diverse community together.

Tony Williams
He passed up the chance to pontificate, perhaps the first politician ever to do that on that subject, nor did he see much need for one of those televised dialogues on race, the feel-good exercises so favored by the president.

He advanced instead the crazy notion that the way to ease racial tension is not to talk but to make the city work, fill the potholes, make the streets safe in all parts of town and ensure city services are shared equally by every citizen.

He was careful to say his approach was no cure-all, just a part of the problem that he thought he could do something about.

Now there could be a lesson for all of us in every big city in that approach, and it may even be working.

I've lived around here the better part of 30 years, and during last week's big snowstorm, for the first time ever, a snowplow actually visited our street. That was apparently the case on a lot of streets.

I don't know how it went over in other neighborhoods, but it sure put me in a better humor.

©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved