After hearing testimony accusing him of sexual impropriety -- "pig" was the word used most often -- D.C. Mayor Marion Barry had the audacity Monday to head straight for television station WJLA (Channel 7) and be interviewed by Renee Poussaint.
The television spotlights were hot, and perspiration rained from Barry's forehead. But it was also Poussaint's pressure on him to respond to accusations that he forced sex on a woman that made Barry nervous.
Barry did not do well during this interview. It was as if he had forgotten that there are two juries convened to hear his case -- one empaneled by a federal judge, the other consisting of public opinion.
The mayor was unnerved and at times appeared insincere. With Poussaint's impatience and indignation shining through, it became clear that Barry had misjudged the impact of the courtroom testimony against him.
Barry tried to redirect the interview toward his recovery from alcoholism. He said he had 156 days clean. It was, in fact, a fine start, but not enough for him to outmaneuver Poussaint's intense inquisition.
Add to that the testimony of ex-model Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore, including FBI videotape of him smoking crack, and Barry had to be wondering where he had gone wrong with the ladies.
In a stunning rush, his history of womanizing became an open book -- not just in the press, but much of it in open court. In one day, three black women -- not some white male prosecutor -- had come forth with tales of clumsy, brutish sexcapades. They described a mayor intoxicated with alcohol and drugs, watching an X-rated movie and wrestling one woman into having sex with him.
Until recently, it had appeared that the Barry card catalogue of women was indexed exactly the way he wanted it.
There had been a category of women of dubious backgrounds for him to mess around with, such as Karen K. Johnson. She pleaded guilty in June 1984 to charges of drug conspiracy and later went to jail rather than testify before a grand jury about the mayor's alleged drug use.
Rose Marie McCarthy had also fallen on her sword. She, too, went to jail before deciding to cooperate with investigators looking into allegations that Barry used drugs.
Barry's visit to the Capitol Hill home of part-time model Grace T. Shell had not worked out as he might have preferred. Her landlord intervened, and Barry was dismissed as an unwelcomed guest. Because of her profession, perhaps, no one really gave her protest much weight.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a category of women whom Barry genuinely respected. It included Carol B. Thompson, city administrator; Maudine R. Cooper, chief of staff; Lurma Rackley, press secretary; and perhaps most revered of all, Anita Bonds, his political campaign strategist.
Somewhere in the middle, but closer to the Karen Johnson side, was his first wife, Mary Treadwell, who remained loyal to Barry, claiming as she was hauled off to prison that he knew nothing about her scheme to bilk poor people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Closer to the Carol Thompson side is his current wife, Effi, who has been praised for standing by her man despite the way he has embarrassed her by having his affairs made public.
But now many of Barry's women have turned on him -- with Moore doing so in a most sensational manner. In the face of her betrayal, whatever notions Barry held about his ability to manipulate women, it appeared inoperative.
Even the usually gracious Poussaint was now shaking her finger in Barry's face. And if accusations that Barry had behaved like a sexual bully had Poussaint disturbed, imagine how Barry's predominantly female jury must have felt.
Of course, there is no way to answer that just yet. But you can figure that if Barry used the same judgment to help select the female jurors that he used in deciding to go head-to-head with Poussaint, he might as well enter a guilty plea.