The usually astute Francis X. Clines, writing from the bully pulpit of “Editorial Observer” on The New York Times editorial page today, offers up a fairly pointless, meandering piece that, in the end, goes nowhere.

First, Clines tells us that the pivotal voting bloc in South Carolina will be “neither NASCAR dads nor soccer moms but Older Black Women.”

But then he turns around and tells us it’s likely that the African-American vote will splinter among Rev. Al Sharpton, Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. John Kerry and local boy Sen. John Edwards.

Clines concludes by noting that Ike Williams, “a ranking black political strategist,” and John Rickenbacker, an Edwards supporter, “are proud that their primary represents the first significant word from the nation’s black electorate.”

He then offers up a truly baffling quote from Williams: “If you get the level of excitation high enough and not do too much damage in the process, it would not be that much trouble to do it in November.”

Do what in November? “[G]et the level of excitation high enough”? What would that even mean?

Clines never tells us.

—S.L.

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Steve Lovelady was editor of CJR Daily.