Monday, November 27, 2006

Black Marks

The N&O finally gets around to outing the ever-so-apparent ... connection (the French would discreetly call it une affaire de coeur) between Speaker of the N.C. House Jim Black and his former staff member/paid lobbyist Meredith Norris. Some had worried earlier in the year that these shenanigans could bring down Democratic government in Raleigh, but they appear only to be bringing down Mr. Black. No one expects him to be reelected to the Speaker's chair again, even if he somehow manages to survive this very close election (which still isn't settled).

The sneak-around sex is one thing. The buying and selling of influence is much worse.

The incipient Black scandals were a difficult hot potato for state Republicans to hurl at Democrats in the campaigns just concluded. Were we going to sit still and be lectured about morals and ethics by the party that's been running Washington through the cash wringer for years?

Poor Gene Wilson (bless his heart!) attempted to drag Jim Black into his reelection battle against Cullie Tarleton, sending out a mailer that attempted to make local politics out of Black's alleged misdeeds. But the message was so muddled -- "It's time for a change!" hardly works as a rallying cry for a 16-year incumbent! -- and the scandals so distant to most people not in the Raleigh in-crowd that the mailer just fizzled. Like everything else Wilson tried.

But the Black poultry has only just begun to come home to roost. By the New Year, we suspect the political ground of the state Democratic party will have so shifted that Mr. Black will find himself alone, as if on a vast wind-swept tundra.

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