By Paul Goldman
Editor's note: Paul Goldman is a guest columnist for DecisionVirginia.com. The views expressed below are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NBC12.
Ice-T is the award-winning rapper and actor, best known probably for playing a detective on the hit TV series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Almost everyone likely figures Ice-T is a clever name for a rapper.
I might too, but for having been a community organizer in Chicago, although President Obama and I worked in different parts of town. I got assigned to what my bosses called the most dangerous public housing project in the Windy City. That’s when I first hear of Iceberg Slim.
Sitting yesterday in the federal courthouse and listening to former governor McDonnell’s lawyers urging their witness to trash his wife Maureen McDonnell in the harshest terms yet, I got thinking about Iceberg Slim.
Chicago is famous for “The Hawk," the street name for the brutal winter wind blowing off Lake Michigan. Take air temperature of 5 degrees, mix it with a 35 MPH gusts racing across the lake and you would rather be at the North Pole. I use to go jogging in that weather through the streets of Chicago, running through the housing projects sometimes.
I thought I knew cold. Until yesterday, sitting in the courtroom.
Years ago, a young woman friend of mine stopped me walking through the projects. She was, as they say, a “stone-cold fox” and asked if I had ever heard of Iceberg Slim. Without waiting for an answer – that’s my memory at least – she gave me a dog-eared copy of a book entitled Pimp: The Story of My life. “You got to read it, college boy” she said, shaking her “money maker,” as the lingo goes. She stuck it in my back jean pocket.
To be honest, I never looked at it. Then a few weeks later, my roommate came home one night and he tossed a book at me. “You ain’t gonna believe this,” he said. It had a photo of Iceberg Slim on the front, with the same title Pimp: The Story of My Life. I remember it being late, maybe 11 p.m.
Turns out Iceberg Slim is a real person and claims this to be an autobiography of sorts. I read it cover to cover, fascinated and repulsed at the same time, loved the clever lingo, hated the linguist, and tried to understand the truths about life lurking in the art. It was darker when I finished.
Ice-T, with the help of Chris Rock, Snoop Dogg, and Quincy Jones, produced the recent documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp. I have watched some of it.
Yesterday, sitting in the courtroom, watching Bob McDonnell showing no emotion as his lawyers and former aides continued calling his wife everything but a child of God, I got to confess: I I thought of Iceberg Slim. Why?
Let me be brutally frank: If you believe McDonnell’s defense lawyers, then the former governor pimped out his wife to Jonnie Williams. Indeed, the best pro-defense witness so far said she, and presumably others, were actually hoping Jonnie and Maureen had hooked-up.
So let me say it again: If you believe McDonnell’s defense lawyers, then Bob McDonnell pimped out his wife.
Iceberg Slim would have understood. Bob needed the easy money. Jonnie Williams had been eager to provide it. According to Bob’s defense lawyers, Mrs. McDonnell raged out-of-control, leaving her struggling in a public position she didn’t like, in a marriage she couldn’t stand, and facing money problems she blamed on her husband.
As defense witness Janet Vestal Kelly admitted, everyone around McDonnell wanted to off-load the Maureen problem on someone else. She personally talked to the governor about the need to find a way to deal with the situation, if only for his benefit.
The defense’s defense is clear: The financial benefit received by the former governor is on her, not him. They say he did nothing to justify Mr. Williams giving him a dime.
Opening up the obvious question: Why did Mr. Williams do it, and at the very moment the former governor needed it? The Defense’s answer: Williams did it on account of his relationship with Mrs. McDonnell.
The defense concedes the Governor took the money and has no regrets. Iceberg Slim had a name for that. PIMP. Pimping, as the master pimp said, ain’t about the sex, it’s all about the money and the power.