If Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore is telling the truth -- and the jury is still out on that -- Mayor Marion Barry has come up with an impressive new line to add to the arsenal of friendly persuasions that men have used over the centuries to work their will on reluctant women: Divine providence.
Who could possibly resist it?
Not Moore, that's for sure. According to her riveting testimony on Wednesday, she had some trouble with the fact that she was engaged in an affair with a married man. She testified that she told Barry she was "tussling" with this problem during a conversation that the two had at the Channel Inn. "While sitting there, he told me that it was divine providence that we were together . . . . I told him that I believe that divine providence is a very strong word. He was playing with God's divinity . . . . But at any rate, I did continue the relationship with him."
Nothing has surfaced during the mayor's present trial or his past statements and actions that underscore more dramatically the phenomenal ego that has let him kid himself into believing that he can flout any rule of social, human or political convention with complete impunity. This is a man who is willing to call on God to serve as his excuse for an adulterous affair. Apparently, he wasn't the least bit scared about getting struck by divine providence in the form of a bolt of lightning after telling that particular whopper.
Think how this stuff must be playing in the Barrys' home every night.
EFFI: "Divine providence? Give me a break."
MARION: "She's lying, I tell you. She's making the whole thing up to save her own skin."
EFFI: "Sure. What about the others?"
MARION: "They're all lying. They're just trying to make their friends think they're important enough to be around me. That I'd want them. It's just a big ego trip for them."
EFFI: "Somebody was on an ego trip, that's for sure."
And a power trip. More than anything else that has emerged so far from the trial testimony are examples of how power corrupts, of how powerful people use others and how the more dependent people will go along with really low-life behavior to remain close to the source of money and power. Moore, for example, testified about how her sexual and drug relationship with Barry yielded city contracts worth $180,000.
Another woman, Linda Creque Maynard, has testified that she went to meet the mayor in the Virgin Islands because she thought it would be an "honor." Part of that honor, she said through tears on the witness stand, included being forced to have sex with him. She did not report it.
Another woman, Zenna Mathias, a schoolteacher who lived in the Virgin Islands, said she went to meet the mayor because she was thinking of moving to Washington. There was a dirty movie playing on the television when she got into the room, which she said made her feel "uncomfortable." She testified that Barry kept making sexual overtures to her but she didn't leave because she wanted to make contacts in Washington through Barry and Charles Lewis, who had introduced her to the mayor.
Another woman, Dixie Lee Hedrington, also wanted to meet the mayor because she thought he would be a good business contact, but she testified that he started making sexual overtures to her from the moment she was introduced to him by Lewis.
If these women are telling the truth, it is clear that Marion Barry was hoping that power is as wonderful an aphrodisiac as Henry Kissinger said it is.
Throughout his ordeal, Barry has been blaming the disease of alcohol addiction (this was later expanded to include prescription drugs) for his misdeeds. What makes him tragically believable as an addict is his inability to accept personal culpability for his actions. Nowhere was this more striking than in the video that was shown in the courtroom and on TV for the first time yesterday.
Anyone possessing an ounce of compassion had to feel sorry for a man who was having a sordid moment in his life being secretly videotaped. You wince when he is shown alone in the bedroom, primping in front of the mirror. You wince when he's fixing up his hair. (Oh, vanity, thy name isn't woman, this time.) You wince when you see him smoke the pipe and when the FBI and D.C. police charge into the room.
But then listen to Barry on the tape. He's obviously stoned, but he keeps repeating the words: "Goddamn, what a set up. I'll be goddamned. She set me up like that. Ain't that a bitch. She set me up. Goddamned bitch." Over and over again, he is blaming Moore for what happened, and not himself.
It's still not entirely clear what her motives were in cooperating with the FBI sting. Maybe it was divine providence. Maybe it was a lightning bolt that was just a few years overdue.