I noticed Brian Wahby sitting at the bar. Wahby chairs the city's Central Democratic Committee. He was heckling Palin on the screen.
His heckle was aspiring to a chant at Palin's expense, based on the futlity of drilling for more oil. The chant neither caught on nor inspired public opposition (though there were a few, bedraggled Ron Paul Republicans slouched just down the bar from Wahby).
I did my best to ignore Wahby, which is not easy to do. He is a large, loud man. His default setting (easily observed from the above image with state Sen. Jeff Smith, pinched off Smith's website) is "NOTICE ME!"
I was thinking that if the folks at The Royale had a better understand of City politics and Wahby's role in it, they would be heckling HIM.
Wahby is one of many foot soldiers helping to execute the divide-and-rule politics that runs the City of St. Louis. He personally gave Mayor Francis G. Slay campaign money right after Slay's administration demoted Fire Chief Sherman George, setting off a firestorm in the black community. More recently, Jake Wagman of the Post busted Wahby funneling money to Slay through the Central Committee. Wahby's wife, Robbyn, earns nearly $100,000 year from taxpayers as a Slay appointee. She is responsible for what has been Slay's biggest failure, even more significant than the Sherman George caper: public education.
But, there is a contested presidential election to win. Wahby is a Democrat. Jeff Smith has assured me that Wahby has worked hard to elect Barack Obama. I believe that to be true.
Wahby passed by my table, on his way out the door. I had joined state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who had been sitting alone when my buddy and I entered the bar. Jamilah introduced Wahby to me. Before this moment, we had been more names than faces to one another - unpleasant names, as Wahby recognized.
"Oh!" he said, when he heard my name. "The one who writes stuff about me!"
"Good stuff?" Jamilah said.
"No, bad stuff," Wahby said.
I said, "We are on the opposite sides of some important issues."
"Why?" Wahby said. "We're both Democrats."
"City government," I said.
Wahby was still moving toward the door. With his usually booming voice and physicality of gesture, he said, "That's right - you're on the losing side!" and left the bar.
That was all civil and decent. But I was left wondering, "Which side am I on? And what did we lose?"
When Wahby was busted moving money through the Central Committee to Mayor Slay, state Sen. Maida Coleman objected, saying that half of the organization opposed using the committee to fund the mayor.
She made those remarks in the minutes of a meeting. Wagman didn't ask Maida to elaborate, but most readers probably understood her to be saying that most black Democrats in the city are opposed to the mayor.
That has certainly been my experience, as a white guy who works for a black-owned newspaper and tends to see city politics through the eyes of my mentors, who are from the African-American old guard.
I'll be asking those guys, "What did we lose? Why is our side the losing side?"
Maybe I'll ask Wahby. What winning side was Brian Wahby on? Did he do something we don't know about to undermine Sherman George? Certainly our side has lost that one, so far.
Did he participate in the recent underground effort to starve a potential mayoral candidate of funding? We know he did all he could to kick cash to Slay - but is he also working to undermine the fundraising efforts of a fellow Democrat? If so, please let the people know, Mr. Wahby.
As for his favorite mayor, last I checked, you can't even file to run against him in 2009 yet, and the last time Slay ran, The St. Louis American didn't endorse anyone. We didn't win, but we didn't lose.
I'll have to ask Wahby these things the next time I see him. Who is on my side? Black St. Louis? Are we all losers? What did we lose?
And if Wahby won, what did he win?