Almost any other man, especially a mayor, would, after the worldwide airing of a videotape showing him smoking crack, be walking around with his coat collar up and his head down.
Not Marion Barry, the unregenerate, unapologetic mayor of Washington. He swaggered into his trial wearing a Kente cloth, the woven scarf that came into vogue during Nelson Mandela's conquest of America, and two yellow rosebuds in his lapel.
"Yellow," he explained to one of the several crowds he has been addressing after Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore told the court about their long, and, according to her, drug-taking relationship, "is for canaries."
Barry is busy outside the courtroom conducting a trial of his trial. He goes to churches and temples. He has become the darling of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the separatist anti-Semite, and George Augustus Stallings Jr., an excommunicated Catholic priest who made himself a bishop.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson excluded Farrakhan and Stallings from the proceedings. The mayor is shocked. He complained on the courthouse steps, after Moore testified about how he knocked her down and how they took drugs together all over the city, including his house and office, "more than a hundred times." The ban reminded the mayor of Nazi Germany.
Jesse L. Jackson, who despite his "Down With Dope" slogan has recklessly flung himself into defending the mayor, was reminded of Soviet surveillance.
Inconsistency is one of the hallmarks of the Barry case. The rivals for his job, except for Sharon Pratt Dixon, never criticize him or ask for his resignation. Instead, they are lusting for his endorsement. By their silence, they are by implication joining in the mayor's characterization of the case as an exercise in unbridled racist persecution.
The mayor fans the flames at every opportunity. During the noon break, he went to a Marion Barry Appreciation Day rally in the park across the street from the District Building. About 300 city workers poured out to hear Judge Jackson referred to as "Bull Connor Jackson"; the trial called "a lynching," and rabble-rousing oratory about slaves being brought over here and "whipped and chained and tortured and burned to death."
The mayor explained one thing: why his wife, Effi, has been acting out a parody of wifeliness by sitting in the front row of the courtroom listening intently as other women tell of having sex with her husband.
"People," said the mayor, when it was his turn to speak, "want to know why Effi does this and why she does that. She told me, 'Marion, God has forgiven you, and I have too.' "
The crowd yelled and cheered and cried "hold on" with the fervor that comes with a weekly city paycheck.
Then His Honor returned to the trial, to a jury which hears the unremittingly tawdry details of the life of a man who can't say no to drugs or sex -- to a world where "Rasheeda" is queen. Barry's able lawyer, R. Kenneth Mundy, tried, over and over, to get her to admit that she forced Barry into taking drugs.
Moore is a handsome woman with considerable presence. She has put on weight since her scrawny model days. For yesterday's appearance she wore a gray scarf tied around her forehead, a gray suit with a black tank top and a gold chain. In a full voice, she delivered her answers with a matriarchal calm.
What she had to admit, she admitted. Yes, she had forgotten that Barry referred to a night when she and a friend of Barry's had stayed up drinking all night. Mundy seemed to think it was an indictment of her credibility.
"The memory does slip sometimes like that," she said imperturbably.
Barry said no to drugs nine times, Mundy pointed out to her.
"He gave me the money for the drugs," she said.
Moore is desperate. She cooperated with the FBI in the sting in hopes of earning a better deal on charges pending against her in California. She has three children, and a husband in jail. Her prospects, once brilliant -- she was a college graduate with a promising modeling career -- have dwindled to a hope of survival.
Barry went to the hotel to have sex with her, not drugs. He was a virtuous, would-be adulterer, his followers claim, not an addict. The clergy supporting him apparently have no more trouble with a broken commandment than they do with his videotaped drug-smoking.
Why does Barry race around the city in search of easy ovations? It may be good for his ego, but not for his case. Nurturing racial hatreds is a wretched business that will not help in the courtroom. Does he think that by whipping up black solidarity he will ensure some kind of outbreak if a guilty verdict is returned? It's just one more indication in a depressing anthology that shows that Barry thinks he can get away with anything.