Some things are better late than never, which is the category I use to describe the N&O's lead editorial today, making the case for Jim Black to step down as Speaker. It's a case we're all familiar with, so I won't belabor the rationale. But I did find one part especially interesting.
His defenders might say, well, not only has he not been convicted of anything, he hasn't even been charged with anything. That's true, and their point is well-taken -- which is why Black's constituents back home in Mecklenburg County can determine with their votes whether they want to send him back to Raleigh.
The speaker's office, however, requires a leader who retains the confidence of his colleagues and the public, who can lead the chamber to confront the important challenges facing the state. Black's presence in the speaker's chair threatens to deepen partisan divides and weaken confidence, things that will make it even more difficult to find consensus.
For all their high and mightiness around journalistic ethics, it always surprises me when the N&O editorial can split hairs this way. If a person is so ethically challenged to be unable to perform in a leadership function, is it proper to accept that person as a trusted representative in our government?
If the people in Black's district want him in office, fine. That's a whole nother thing we can discuss at a later time. But why on earth would a newspaper, who is NOT entangled in district politics, refuse to take a principled stand in this matter. The N&O editorial board should have called for Jim Black to step down. Their argument about leadership is a distinction without a difference when it comes to matters of integrity.
Call me a naive pollyanna, but damn it, how can any responsible watch dog stand by and condone how Jim Black operates? I guess "responsible" is the operative word in that question.