They say in politics, the right things never happen for the right reasons. And I can see already that some scribes are coming forth with tales of woe: DIVISION! ACRIMONY! DEAL MAKING! HORSETRADING! SHOCK! SURPRISE! WEIRDNESS!
But I tell you what. Although all nine members did not sit down to figure out a "compromise", Darlene Harris represents a true, fundamental compromise and middle ground. Democracy did the thing that it does when it actually works good.
Sure, one "side" of the aisle decided to execute the compromise unilaterally because their backs were up against a wall, confronting an outcome they perceived to be intolerable. But did the other "side" wind up with one of the outcomes they would find truly intolerable? No, because that could not be achieved. Bruised feelings aside, each of the warring factions in Pittsburgh has reason not to grind their teeth tonight in their sleep.
Can any of you identify which "side" Darlene Harris better represents, the progressives or the imperialists? No. And that might actually mean she's not on one of them at all, and she's been quiet about it -- not conspicuously playing both sides of the fence. Perhaps last week, you would have said she falls at least a titch on the Mayor's "side", but that has been balanced by her principled pick of Peduto as finance chair as someone she says "has been doing a good job at that." Which in turn was balanced again by selecting Theresa Smith to be President Pro-Tem, to serve as President in her absence.
After having been built up, built up, Buttercup, just to be let down, does Councilwoman Smith have reason to feel a little wounded? Of course. But as she attested frequently this was an entirely unexpected opportunity for her. As a front-running and much-discussed candidate for the past week, her stature is far higher than it was even after that Student Tax meeting.
Yes there were fireworks, yes there will be political analysis, and yes it ended in a 5-4 vote. But in the end, compromise happened, and Pittsburghers who do not live and breathe these politics are the winners. Now, had Crown Prince Peduto carried the day instead, I would have been far, far more excited -- done a little touchdown dance and everything. But I don't think I can imagine being any more serenely happy with the results. I am uplifted.
One more thing -- because we must be consistent -- although we should be comforted that Council President Harris has six years worth of legislative experience plus several on the School Board, does she pass the all-important "Would You Trust Her To Be Mayor" test?
Well. Tell you what. I trust her maturity level. I trust her heart is in the right place. I don't not trust her to be Mayor. Count it!