As a highly experienced professional observer of all kinds of stuff I’d just as soon not have seen, I’m going to go out on a limb here and help Mayor Bob narrow down the options a bit on the identity of "The Pulse:"
I’m pretty sure they’re white.
This is based on anecdotal inference, mind you, but I offer my intelligence estimate with a high degree of confidence.
You may or may not have noticed a brief, bottom-of-the-page editorial we ran a week or two ago (the kind we call a "backup," if you’ll forgive the jargon), along these lines:
IT’S DISAPPOINTING that filing closed for Columbia City Council
elections without anyone stepping up to challenge long-term Councilman
Mr. Cromartie has done much to help his district, he also has done
plenty to damage the public’s trust and give citizens reason to worry.
one hand, Councilman Cromartie is responsible for helping revive areas
such as Read Street and the old Saxon Homes public housing community
property. He also pushed a jobs program to train residents in the
empowerment zone. But Mr. Cromartie has also set a terrible example of
common citizenship. Over the years, he’s failed to pay taxes on time,
been delinquent on water bill payments, overspent his council expense
account and parked in handicapped spaces.
Elected officials, like
many of us, encounter difficulties sometimes. But when someone
willingly offers himself for public office, he should be held to a
higher standard of trustworthiness. Mr. Cromartie has not measured up…
And so forth. This editorial was no big deal to us. It didn’t say anything about Mr. Cromartie that we hadn’t said before. It’s just that one of us noticed that he had skated without opposition, we agreed that that was a shame given his record in office, and we did the edit. It ran on a Saturday. By Monday, I had forgotten about it.
Others had not. All day Monday, people came up to me whenever I was out in public (at breakfast, at Rotary). That’s always nice, but there’s praise and there’s praise. This editorial had not been a big deal, and really wasn’t worth that much comment — at the expense of other things we had made a bigger deal about, which were NOT getting mentioned so enthusiastically.
And after all these years, you develop the ability to read between the lines of praise as well as criticism. This praise fit into a certain pattern.
Next day, I mentioned all this mentioning to Warren. Warren said HE had been hearing from folks all the previous day, too. Then I mentioned that all the people who had praised the editorial to me had been white. Why did I mention that? Because of the pattern I had seen in the praise. These folks were saying, in their words and facial expressions and gestures, what I had heard and seen white Columbians say about Mr. Cromartie for years (I can’t swear it’s ONLY been white folks, but that’s been the overwhelming tendency — his black critics tend to be quieter). No, I’m not saying there was anything racist in any of this. I’m just saying that this is something I get a lot from white readers — a particular sort of long-suffering frustration with a black officeholder who gets returned to office time and again by the voters in his single-member-district, no matter what he does.
As I read back over that paragraph, I know I haven’t explained what I mean in a way that will be understood by everyone. But I’m trying to describe something for which we have no common vocabulary. People who have dealt with it a lot and seen the things I’ve seen may understand me. Others will not.
Warren knew what I meant. He shared with me the fact that all those who had contacted him had been black. And they had not been going out of their way to praise the editorial. Some had been critical; others had just mentioned it in a neutral way.
This is the kind of thing that perpetuates itself. Officeholders like Mr. Cromartie tend to stay in office because most public criticism of them tends to come from whites, which enables him to come across as a victim with a lot of black voters.
For Warren and me, the problems we have with Mr. Cromartie’s performance in office aren’t about race. For too many other people, they are. That’s one of the things that makes a candidacy like Obama’s so exciting — it really isn’t about race, whereas far too many elections still are.
Anyway, you may or may not have seen this post at ‘The Pulse,’ based on our backup editorial. There’s nothing wrong with what The Pulse is saying about Mr. Cromartie. I agree with it. Good point. And yes, it is indeed frustrating that "because E.W. has been so long entrenched in his seat, he can get away with things like this."
But certain undefinable things about that post caused me to leap to a conclusion: ‘The Pulse’ is white. Or at least the writer of that post is. Let’s get a second opinion… based on our previous conversation, I pointed the post out to Warren. Yep, he said. He’s "pretty sure" they’re white.
If we’re wrong, I’ll be glad to apologize for being so presumptuous. I’ll be glad to do so, because it’s actually a relief to be proved wrong about such things. But I’m pretty sure we’re not.