Kamala Harris stomped all over Joe Biden in the second night of debates when it came to his comments on segregationists and his voting record on bussing.
June 28, 2019

What happens when a bunch of white people opine on matters of police brutality in the Black community, racism, and accountability without bothering to bring the only Black woman on the stage into the conversation? If that Black woman is Senator Kamala Harris, the rest of those white folks are in for a much-needed education and a deserved world of hurt.

To be fair, we knew there was a legitimate question to be asked of Mayor Pete Buttigieg about the tragic police killing of Eric Logan, a Black man, in South Bend, Indiana. The cop didn't have his bodycam turned on. Buttigieg admitted to things being a mess in his town regarding policing, and took responsibility for not being able to get it done. Various candidates piped in with admonishments, across and over a silent Kamala Harris, who took it all in before saying, "How about letting an actual Black person weigh in on this matter?" The rest fell silent as she proceeded to redirect the conversation on race to the man she needs to unseat as front-runner, former VP Joe Biden.

SENATOR HARRIS: Okay. So on the issue of race, I couldn't agree more that this is an issue that is still not being talked about truthfully and honestly. There is not a black man I know, be he a relative, a friend or a coworker who has not been the subject of some form of profiling or discrimination. Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us her parents couldn't play with us because we were black. And I will say also that in this campaign we have also heard and I will direct this at Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground, but I also believe and it's personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States Senators who built their reputations and careers on the segregation of race in this country. It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As Attorney General of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.

Ruh-Roh. Biden looked visibly uncomfortable, and the moderators invited him to respond, since Harris invoked him by name over his voting record on bussing and his recent comment about being able to work with segregationists way back in the 1970s.

VP BIDEN: It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I do not praise racists. That is not true. [Author's note: Harris didn't say he praised racists. She said his comments about segregationists were hurtful.] Number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights, and whether I did or not, I'm happy to do that. I was a public defender. I didn't become a prosecutor. I left a good law firm to become a public defender. When in fact my city was in flames because of the assassination of Dr. King. Number one. Number two, as vice president of the united states, I worked with a man who in fact we worked very hard to see to it we dealt with these issues in a major, major way. The fact is that in terms of bussing, the bussing, you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That's fine. That's one of the things I argued for that we should be breaking down these lines. The bottom line here is, look. Everything I have done in my career, I ran because of civil rights and continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights and those civil rights, by the way, include not just African-Americans, but the LGBT community.

How could Biden be so unprepared for that question? So flustered by it? Senator Harris pressed him, like the practiced prosecutor she is: "But do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose bussing in America then? Do you agree?" And Biden, like he does every single time he is wrong about something, doubles down in his wrongness.

BIDEN: I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is bussing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed.

HARRIS: Well, there was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools almost two decades after Brown v Board of Education.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision.

HARRIS: So, that's where the federal government must step in. That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, that's why we need to pass the Equality Act and need the pass the ERA. Because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.

Again, what exactly did he think would happen during this debate? Did he think no one would challenge him on his voting record? On the things that had been making the rounds in the news as recently as last week that stirred up controversy? One could see his frustration rising, along with the volume and pitch of his voice as he argued with the woman who had once been bussed to integrate a school in second grade. Telling her she was mischaracterizing what he said (she wasn't," while completely missing the point that it took two decades for her city to decide to comply with Brown vs. Bd of Ed.

Fully rearing back in his defensive posture, he made his last attempt to stand up as a civil rights champion...

I supported the ERA from the beginning, I'm the guy that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years and got to the place where we got 98 out of 98 votes in the Senate doing it, and I argued strongly that we in fact deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box. I agree that everybody -- anyway, my time is up.


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