Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg Come Under Fire On Second Night Of Democratic Debates

WIth the top two candidates in the race on the same stage, the second night of the first Democratic debate was much feistier than the first night.

Joe Biden’s name was barely mentioned during Wednesday night’s iteration of the first Democratic debate. In fact, President Trump’s name was dropped more during the course of that proceeding than the man at the top of the field in the race for the Democratic nomination. That wasn’t the case last night, though, with California Senator Kamala Harris leading the way in criticism of Biden and aspects of his long record as a Senator that began when he was first elected back in 1972 and even Democrats held positions that are seemingly out of place in the Democratic Party of the second decade of the 21st Century:

MIAMI — Joseph R. Biden Jr. repeatedly found himself on the defensive in the Democratic debate on Thursday over his record as well as his personal views, with the most searing moment of the night, and the primary campaign to date, coming when Senator Kamala Harris confronted him over his comments on working with segregationists in the Senate.

Mr. Biden, the Democratic front-runner who was participating in his first major debate in seven years, was at times halting and meandering, but also forceful in pushing back on criticism of his record. Those attacks included a call for the 76-year-old former vice president to “pass the torch” to a younger generation, as well as questions about his positions on immigration and abortion, and his enthusiasm for working with Republicans.

But the most dramatic exchange was over not only policy — but also personal history. Peering down the stage to look at Mr. Biden directly, Ms. Harris assailed him for remarks he made this month invoking his work in a Senate that included a pair of notorious segregationists. She then went further, recalling that he had also opposed school busing in the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Ms. Harris said. “And that little girl was me.”

Mr. Biden responded indignantly, calling her attacks “a mischaracterization of my position across the board” — and then returned fire at Ms. Harris, who has faced criticism from the left for her record as a prosecutor in California.

“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,” he shot back. “I was a public defender, I didn’t become a prosecutor.”

The back and forth was the tensest moment in the first Democratic debates, which were split between Wednesday and Thursday, with 10 candidates each night, to accommodate the party’s sprawling field. And it illustrated both Mr. Biden’s vulnerability and the urgency his rivals feel to start sowing doubts about his candidacy with voters who mostly view him as Barack Obama’s vice president.

At a moment when President Trump has inflamed the country’s racial divisions, the clash also went to the heart of the Democrats’ debate over whom to nominate. Should they put forward a moderate who could appeal to some of the white voters who elected Mr. Trump but who also carries baggage from an earlier political era? Or would they be more likely to win by energizing younger and nonwhite voters with a candidate like Ms. Harris, a California senator whose father is black and mother was of Indian descent?

Ms. Harris’s offensive also represented an effort to jump-start her campaign, which started with great promise in January but has flagged as she has wrestled with whether to run as a progressive or appeal to her party’s moderate wing.

Her campaign has for months been privately consumed with Mr. Biden, whose initial advantage in the polls is partly attributable to his strong backing from African-Americans — votes Ms. Harris needs to win to secure the nomination. But it is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who has been gaining momentum of late.

Mr. Biden did not appear as unsteady as he has in some other recent public appearances, but he also may not have fully convinced Democrats that, as their nominee, he would be able to parry Mr. Trump’s hectoring attacks next year. Unlike some of the other candidates, he did not try to interject himself into the conversation.

But he did repeatedly recall his service with Mr. Obama, on whom he showered praise. And he flashed his sense of humor when

Representative Eric Swalwell of California urged him to let a new generation of Democrats come forth.

“I’m still holding on to that torch,” Mr. Biden responded with a smile.

The former vice president has already faced a handful of other challenges, some of them, like allegations that he inappropriately touched women, before he even formally entered the race. And he has proved resilient, as many rank-and-file voters appeared less concerned about his transgressions than liberal activists were.

But those controversies were not broadcast on live television before millions of Americans.

It was not on matters of race alone that Mr. Biden found himself under biting attack. Rivals on both the left and the center dismissed Mr. Biden’s narrative of his political career as a case study in steady leadership, and repeatedly questioned the most fundamental proposition of his candidacy — that he is uniquely well suited to unite the country and wring progress from a sclerotic Washington.

When Mr. Biden delivered a laudatory account of his own skills as a congressional negotiator, boasting that he had coaxed a tax increase out of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, he earned a swift rebuke from a fellow moderate, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

“The deal that he talked about, with Mitch McConnell, was a complete victory for the Tea Party,” Mr. Bennet said, arguing that Mr. Biden had made foolish concessions to Republicans on government spending without getting much in return. “That was a great deal for Mitch McConnell. It was a terrible deal for America.”

And without condemning Mr. Biden by name, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also rejected his deal-making ethos and called attention to his history of taking more conservative positions on abortion rights — including his past support for a ban on federal funding for abortion, known as the Hyde Amendment. Mr. Biden renounced his support for the measure only this month.

“When the door is closed, negotiations are made, there are conversations about women’s rights and compromises have been made on our backs,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “That’s how we got to Hyde. The how the Hyde Amendment was created — a compromise by leaders of both parties.”

It was Ms. Harris, however, who did the most to elevate her candidacy: At one point she was the top trending topic on Google in the country.
In addition to confronting Mr. Biden, she repeatedly chastised Mr. Trump, gently criticized Mr. Obama for his deportation policies and generally reminded Democrats why they were so intrigued about her candidacy in the first place.

While Andrew Prokop is correct in observing in his post-debate analysis that this was not the debate that Biden was probably hoping for, it was inevitable that he would face criticism like this in at least the first debate from candidates seeking to break out in a crowded field. Indeed, given the fact that he was the frontrunner in the race for the nomination even before he entered the race, and that he has enhanced that position since he actually entered the race, it was perhaps inevitable that former Vice-President Biden would become the chief target in any debate he participated in. For the most part, Biden seemed well-prepared for those attacks, indeed better prepared than it had been in recent weeks when he came under fire for past support for the Hyde Amendment and his seemingly complimentary comments about his ability work with politicians he disagrees with, specifically mentioning two southern Democrats that Biden served with early in his career who were ardent segregationists in the past.

While he did stumble a few times in the face of the attacks on his record from Senator Harris and other candidates, I don’t believe that the former Vice-President made any major mistakes or say anything that is likely to have a significant negative impact on his campaign. There were times when he was off his game, but the fact that we are still some 220 days away and that there will be several more debates and more opportunities to do better than he did. For the most part, Biden entered the night as the overwhelming frontrunner in the race, and he left the stage in basically the same position. We’ll need to wait a week or two to see if these debates have any impact on polling, but my guess is that, for the most part, Biden will not see his position undermined significantly heading forward. The night did reveal, though, where Biden’s vulnerabilities lie, and they not surprisingly lie in the very same thing that he touts as his biggest asset, his long history of public service as a Senator and Vice-President. The best example of that, of course, came during the sometimes tense exchange with Senator Harris over Biden’s record on busing back in the early 1970s:

On the bright side for Biden, he did manage to keep much of the night focused on the necessity of defeating Donald Trump next November and made a strong case for why he is that candidate. He also was successful in focusing on his time working across aisles while serving as Vice-President, although even that came under attack from some of the under-2% candidates who claimed that the deals he worked out often ended up being more beneficial to Republicans than Democrats. For the most part, though, I would say that Biden handled the attacks on him as best as can be expected. What it means for his campaign going forward is still up in the air.

The former Vice-President wasn’t the only focus of attacks, though, and Biden often joined in as several of the other candidates took aim at those on the stage representing the seemingly ascendant left wing of the party:

If Mr. Biden spent much of the debate on defense, so at times did the ascendant left wing of the Democratic Party, as a group of moderates led by Mr. Biden raised doubts — and repeatedly expressed something verging on alarm — about Democrats’ embrace of the far-left ideas pioneered by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Mr. Biden rejected Mr. Sanders’s demand for a single-payer health care system and said that seeking to expand coverage more incrementally was the more pragmatic approach. Two lesser known rivals, Mr. Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, introduced themselves to voters with stark warnings that Mr. Sanders and others who espouse his ideology could damage the Democratic Party and the country’s economy.

“If we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists,” Mr. Hickenlooper declared, “the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialist.”

And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., raised reservations about creating new universal college tuition benefits, suggesting that could end up providing unneeded financial support to wealthy students.

Yet Mr. Sanders had ample company onstage from Democrats aligned with his vision for health care and much more, including Ms. Harris and Ms. Gillibrand, both of whom raised their hands to endorse the replacement of private care with a “Medicare for all” system.

For his part, Mr. Sanders defended his agenda with plain enthusiasm.

From his first comments of the night, he said voters were demanding “real change” from their government, and suggested without naming names that opponents like Mr. Biden were offering paltry half-measures.

Americans, Mr. Sanders said, deserve a president who will “stand up and tell the insurance companies and the drug companies that their day is gone, that health care is a human right.”

He did not, however, target the former vice president, and his familiar jeremiads were not met with the sort of enthusiastic applause from the audience as many of Ms. Harris’s lines

Going into this debate, there have been several reports focusing on the fact that Sanders seems to have grown frustrated with the fact that he seems to be fading in the polls as other candidates such as Elizabeth Warren come fast on his heels. The frustration, allegedly, lies in the fact that these candidates are hitting themes and taking positions that Sanders basically had to himself in the 2016 nomination fight with Hillary Clinton. Given the fact that Sanders and many of his supporters defended his decision to remain in the 2016 race even when it was clear that he could not win the nomination with the argument was to promote his ideas. Well, he succeeded in that regard and now he’s facing the fact that there are many better, arguably more qualified, candidates seeking to appeal to the same group of voters that he is. The fact that he is not enjoying the same advantages he did in 2016 is due, at least in part, to the fact that he succeeded in moving a major part of the party to the left. In the process, he’s brought to the forefront a group of candidates that are arguably more appealing, and more viable in a hypothetical General Election.

Sanders also came under attack from arguably more moderate candidates such as Biden, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who argued that he is dragging the party too far to the left in a manner that could end up helping President Trump in November 2020. Hickenlooper in particular was particularly strong in making the argument that Democrats will lose the election if they assist Trump by advocating things like a Medicare-For-All that would lead to some 180 million Americans to lose employer-provided health care coverage that they’re generally pleased with, or the idea, advanced during Wednesday night’s debate by Julian Castro, that illegal entry into the country should be decriminalized. While that is unlikely to be a popular idea among the Democratic base, it is the kind of realistic pragmatism that the party would be wise to listen to if it wants to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

In addition to Biden and Sanders, another candidate to come under fire was South Bend, Indiana Mayor, and rising, star Pete Buttigieg:

Besides Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders, a third prominent candidate, Mr. Buttigieg, spent a significant share of the debate explaining and defending his record in government. Having risen quickly in the polls as a favorite of educated liberal voters, Mr. Buttigieg has faced a difficult test over the past two weeks after a white police officer in South Bend shot and killed a black man.

Mr. Buttigieg acknowledged in a contrite statement that he had not achieved sufficient changes in the police department to avert similar episodes and to earn the trust of the African-American community there. Multiple rivals pounced, and Mr. Hickenlooper cast Mr. Buttigieg as a laggard in pursuing police reforms.

“We’re obviously not there yet,” Mr. Buttigieg conceded. “I accept responsibility for that because I’m in charge.”

For the most part, Mayor Buttigieg handled the questions about his handling of the police shooting crisis that his city finds itself in. However, it will be interesting to see what impact it has on his effort to reach out to African-American voters that, so far, don’t seem to be very receptive to his campaign.

Leaving aside the attacks on people at or near the top of the field, I have to agree with the general notion this morning that Kamala Harris was the runaway winner last night. Using the same skills she learned as a lawyer and prosecutor that she did during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight, Harris managed to put the seemingly untouchable frontrunner on the defensive in a way that arguably was meant to show voters that she could easily take on another septuagenarian in the 2020 General Election. This is likely to give her a boost among the Democratic voters and garner attention for a campaign that has been fading somewhat as attention focused on Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren. Whether that’s going to be enough to vault her into the position of being a contender remains to be seen. Currently, Harris is averaging 7.0% in the RealClearPolitics poll average, behind Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg. Whether last night helps to light a spark under her campaign remains to be seen.

As for the rest of the candidates, I think the best that can be said is that they pretty much revealed the reasons why they are all basically wallowing in irrelevance. Some of them, like Hickenlooper and Bennet, made good points at various points during the debate but they are ones that the Democratic base are likely to ignore. Others, such as New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, were rather lackluster with the time that the had. More importantly, none of them did very much with the time that they had that seems likely to lift them out of irrelevance and some of them. such as Marianne Williamson, an author whose previous claim to fame was being a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s old talk show to talk about her books about spirituality or something, basically confirmed the reasons why they are wallowing in irrelevance. These candidates will likely stay about where they are in the polls and could find themselves largely locked out of the race after the second debate in a month’s time.

Basically then, we walk away from the second night of the first debate with Biden somewhat, but not completely, on the defensive but hardly knocked out of the race. Sanders, meanwhile, will likely continue to have to worry about candidates such as Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris overtaking him to become the chief alternative to the former Vice-President. All that being said, though, there’s something worth keeping in mind. As of today, we have 221 days until the Iowa Caucuses, 229 days until the New Hampshire Primary, and 247 days until the South Carolina Primary. What happened at a debate in June 2019 isn’t going to matter very much by then.

For those who missed it, here’s the full debate. The link should start at roughly the one-hour mark and it lasts for two full hours on its own. If it doesn’t you can fast forward through all the pre-debate coverage that NBC included in its YouTube post.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Bernie Sanders, Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    I didn’t watch the debates cuz two hours. Based on several thousand reactions on social media, it appears Harris kicked major ass, Buttigieg did really well, and Biden and Sanders lost ground.

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  2. Teve says:

    Someone commented that Marianne Williamson “did really well for a person who was obviously digesting an edible on Live TV”. 😛

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  3. Teve says:

    “The Trump presidency wouldn’t be so dangerous if the forces he awakened were some kind of collective delusion. Instead, the most frightening thing about him is just how many Americans were ready to buy what Trump was selling.”

    -Kamala Harris

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  4. Guarneri says:

    Feisty? Oh, I don’t know. Harris had obviously stuffed the race card up her sleeve so she could play that trick.

    Other than that every candidate agrees to perform late-term abortions on transgendered Guatemalan illegal immigrants with his or her bare hands………….for free of course. Plus free beer, a chicken in every pot and elimination of all CO2 from the air two weeks after the inauguration.

    Throw in a lifetime supply of ProV1s and they’ve got my vote……..

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  5. Terrye Cravens says:

    I was disappointed last night…back stabbing, histrionics and lies. I am old enough to remember how unpopular busing was. There were riots. And considering the fact that Harris was born in 1964 and the liberal city of Berkeley started busing in 1968, there is no way she was in the second class to be bused. Maybe she lied…maybe she was mistaken, but the episode was pure demagoguery. Biden has a long history of supporting civil rights. We all know this. Harris was an ambitious prosecutor who put a lot of black people in jail. She was not all that concerned with hurting people. She is simply playing the race card here and I was disappointed in her. I did not even watch the morning shows today. The media loves this kind of circular firing squad. I don’t. I want to beat Trump, not Biden.

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  6. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Teve: She also lied. But I guess in the age of Trump it is okay for Democrats to lie to win because after all, it worked so well for Trump. Nobody even cares about the truth anymore. And Medicare for all is not what they say it is…I have medicare and it does not pay for a lot of stuff…that is why I also have private insurance. Either Kamala and Sanders are not being honest about this or they don’t know what they are talking about.

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  7. SKI says:

    For the most part, Biden entered the night as the overwhelming frontrunner in the race, and he left the stage in basically the same position.

    Far from “overwhelming” IMO. While Biden is the front-runner, his support is fragile and likely to evaporate if others (Harris & Warren are most likely IMO) generate a belief that they can beat Trump.

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  8. SKI says:

    @Terrye Cravens
    Great. Another idiot who believes right wing hacks like Gateway Pundit.

    https://www.factcheck.org/2018/07/sen-harris-didnt-lie-about-integration/

    [T]he conservative website Gateway Pundit posted a story accusing the senator of “lying” about being only the second class to integrate at Berkeley.

    But she didn’t lie.

    Berkeley started busing students to fully integrate the school district in 1968, and Harris began attending school in 1969.

    However, Gateway Pundit claimed that the public schools in Berkeley, California, had been integrated for years before Harris entered the classroom. It presented high school yearbooks from 1963 and 1964 as evidence.

    While it’s true that the high school was integrated, the rest of the district wasn’t, according to a report commissioned by the school board that was completed in 1963 and led to the full integration of the district in 1968. The report itself isn’t available online, but at least two academic studies that rely heavily on it are available.

    The high school was integrated before the rest of the district because there was only one high school. All students — regardless of race — went there for high school.

    The 14 elementary schools in the Berkeley Unified School District were a different story. They each drew students from the neighborhoods they were in. Those neighborhoods were segregated. So, while the schools didn’t have an official segregation policy, they were, effectively, segregated.

    In the years following the 1963 report, the school district and its community debated the best course toward integration, and in 1968, it started busing students between neighborhoods to achieve integrated schools from elementary through high school.

    It was the first city with a large black population to do so, according to the Los Angeles Times, and was hailed by Dr. Martin Luther King, who said after hearing about the plan, “hope returned to my soul.”

    Harris entered Thousand Oaks Elementary School in the fall of 1969 — the second year of full integration for the district, her office confirmed.

    Charles Burress, the spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District, wasn’t able to confirm her attendance since schools are closed and staff is gone for the summer. But, he said, “we have no reason to doubt her word.”

    The Gateway Pundit story also claims that Harris attended school in Berkeley for only two years before moving to Canada, but, according to her office, Harris moved to Montreal in 1976, when she was in middle school.

    Although the Gateway Pundit story isn’t true, it has been shared by Facebook and Twitter pages that have more than 3 million followers. It also has been picked up and posted by several other websites.

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  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Harris did well, but her performance reminded me a lot of her performance in the Kavanaugh hearings — all hat, no cattle. She’s very smooth and polished, but she lied about her record and displayed extremely shallow policy depth.

    The most impressive to me was Mayor Pete, especially when he said that the failure to make more progress on South Bend policing was on him. It’s rare that politicians both admit failure and take the blame. They usually obfuscate. Don’t know if he’ll get anywhere in this field but he’s my least unfavorite right now.

    (Well, almost. Marianne Williamson was delightfully goofy.)

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  10. Moosebreath says:

    ““If we don’t clearly define that we are not socialists,” Mr. Hickenlooper declared, “the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialist.””

    Because Republicans have not called every single Democratic nominee a socialist since at least 1932, regardless of how they defined themselves.

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  11. Terrye Cravens says:

    @SKI: I am not a right wing hack and I never read Gateway Pundit and I am not going to read it in your post either. BTW, Drudge and Breitbart loved Harris last night. Maybe you should check them out.

    She lied. That is not my fault. I am not saying she was not bused…obviously she was. I am saying she embellished her story in an effort to attack Biden. She locked up a lot of black people on flimsy evidence. That is just a fact. Harris is a politician who is making a name for herself by accusing Obama’s VP of being a racist. It is obvious what she is doing.

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  12. Jen says:

    @Terrye Cravens: She didn’t lie. The relevant information which you refuse to read is:

    “Berkeley started busing students to fully integrate the school district in 1968, and Harris began attending school in 1969.”

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  13. Terrye Cravens says:

    Harris was born October 1964. Berkeley’s busing plan dates to 1968. I am not saying she was not bused, I am saying she was not in the second class to be bused. That part of her story was false. And it was not the federal government that ordered that busing, it was the city of Berkeley. But hey, if the Democrats think they can win by calling Biden a racist and singing the praises of forced busing, go right ahead. But I think that it will fall flat in the long run.

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  14. Terrye Cravens says:

    She can try this trick with Trump, but he does not give a damn if someone calls him a racist. It won’t hurt him at all. He will just smirk. The only person this hurts is Biden. And it was an underhanded way to do it. That is my point. She was not worried about race when she locked up black people with flimsy evidence…she cared about winning the case. It is all about her.

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  15. Teve says:

    @Moosebreath: last week Mitch McConnell called Puerto Rican statehood socialist, despite the fact that it was in the 2016 GOP platform.

    Anybody who thinks Republicans act in good faith is a sucker.

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  16. SKI says:

    @Terrye Cravens: She didn’t lie.
    She said she was the second class in her school to be bussed. She was.

    That you refuse to knowledge this – or care about who is spreading the lie that she lied – says quite a bit about your motivations and honesty.

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  17. Hal_10000 says:

    That exchange was not good for Biden, no matter how you look at it. He could have shimmied through it with something like, “I hear you, Ms. Harris. But at that time, I was concentrating not on what would be ideal but on what was possible. My entire career has been about what is possible.” But he flubbed it. In the end, it may not matter. We’ll have to see if the polls reflect any real change.

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    Harris had obviously stuffed the race card up her sleeve so she could play that trick.

    Actually, that’s you playing your racist card. You’ll be wearing a white hood by this time next year.

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  19. Terrye Cravens says:

    @SKI: No, you are refusing to acknowledge that she embellished her story in an effort to make herself look sympathetic and to hurt Biden. He was not responsible for anything that happened to her then. Nothing he promoted caused her any harm. She made it personal and that was a cheap shot. Do you want to litigate the merits of forced busing? I was born in 1951. I can remember the riots over this issue. It was never popular. Even among a lot of people who supported integration and civil rights. But somehow or other the person who has to bear the responsibility for Harris’s “hurt feelings” is Joe Biden? I think less of her. He could have handled it better, but this is like the medicare for all nonsense…it is pandering.

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  20. Jen says:

    @Terrye Cravens: This is truly a weird thing to get wrapped around the axle about.

    The only time I see this is when people are hunting for a reason to oppose someone that skirts their real issue with the individual.

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  21. michael reynolds says:

    I knew Kamala Harris won the night, but it’s good to have that fact confirmed by the hysterical and dishonest reactions of @Guarneri and @Terrye. Scared are you, boys? Did the mean lady shrivel your drooping testicles a bit?

    There is only one issue that matters for Democrats: end Trump. Kamala looked like the Trump-killer last night.

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  22. Terrye Cravens says:

    @michael reynolds: I am not a boy. I am a woman. I do not have testicles. And I am not scared. I did not agree with Harris making this personal in regards to Biden. I considered it a cheap shot. That is my opinion, sorry if it offends you. And I have never voted for Trump and I never will. So please stop acting as if anyone who disagrees with your current favorite Democrat must be “scared”.

    And not only am I a woman, I am an old woman. I am actually on Medicare. And if I had not had private insurance to bridge the gap my husband and I would have been forced to come up with $25,000 when he got a pacemaker last year. Because Medicare does not pay for everything..so when Sanders and Harris are talking about medicare for all, it sounds bizarre to me…do they know what medicare actually pays for? Surely they must.

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  23. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Jen: Trump is a lying demagogue…he uses people’s emotions and fears and prejudices to win and gain and keep support. I want a Democrat with real ideas to win. Character should matter, but I guess in today’s politics all that matters is who wins the argument or the debate. The fact that it was malicious or dishonest does not matter. That is what bothers me. That is why I like Mayor Pete. He seems like an honest and decent person.

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  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Terrye Cravens:
    Sorry I mistook you for a man. Worse, I mistook your name and thought you were someone else. I’m not good with names.

    But you accused Harris of lying. Despite being corrected – repeatedly – you insist on repeating that false accusation. Why? I think @Jen has it right that this is about something else for you.

    but this is like the medicare for all nonsense

    Maybe we should talk health care issues rather than accusing Harris wrongly.

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  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Terrye Cravens:
    Medicare is a plan designed for retirees – FYI, I’m a month from eligibility. An M4A plan would necessarily involve changes to coverage – rather more pregnancy coverage for example. ‘M4A’ is an easy way to say ‘universal coverage,’ I don’t think anyone believes the benefits package would remain the same.

    Right now Medicare is almost untouchable. Why? Old people vote, that’s why. It’s all about having a constituency to defend the program. Medicaid is a far more vulnerable program. Why? Because poor people don’t vote and they don’t make political contributions. The politics of M4A is not IMO about the benefits definition but about creating a powerful political constituency for universal coverage. If we can get the middle and upper classes invested in M4A (or any iteration of universal coverage) we create an impossible-to-ignore political force.

    I had a long-running debate over at Dave Schuler’s place back when we were all debating Obamacare. My position then was simple: get universal medical into the federal government’s in-basket, worry the details later. I think I was right as the repeated failure of Republicans to kill Obamacare shows. Now I want to deepen and broaden the political constituency beyond the mostly working people and middle class folks who benefited from O’Care. Push the rich into M4A and the program will never be under-funded. Just like Social Security and Medicare.

    Medicare now is not Medicare For All. M4A will be a different thing, and if we do it right, it will be unkillable.

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  26. wr says:

    @Terrye Cravens: “And considering the fact that Harris was born in 1964 and the liberal city of Berkeley started busing in 1968, there is no way she was in the second class to be bused.”

    I was born in ’59 and I was in the first class of Berkeley students to be bused — in fact, there was an adorable picture of me (the last that could ever be thus described) getting off the bus that first day, right behind my good friend Eli Messinger, in Time Magazine. I was starting fourth grade that fall, so I don’t see why Kamala Harris might not have been bused in the second year to first grade.

    Of course you’re welcome to accuse her of lying if you want, but you might want to actually check into some facts before you make a fool of yourself.

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  27. Terrye Cravens says:

    Politically Medicare is untouchable and I am not criticizing it…I am only saying that when I hear Harris and Sanders talk about Medicare for All, I wonder what they think that means? Medicare pays for about 80%. It does not pay for all your meds either. I was prescribed estrogen and neither medicare or my insurance paid for it. And it is quite expensive. I listen to them and I feel they are saying what people want to hear rather than offering realistic proposals. Promises do not pay the bills.

    I do think that a public option would help a great deal.

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  28. wr says:

    @Terrye Cravens: ” Because Medicare does not pay for everything..so when Sanders and Harris are talking about medicare for all, it sounds bizarre to me…do they know what medicare actually pays for? Surely they must.”

    Yes, and that’s why their bill allows for supplemental insurance policies, just like the one you have. You’d know this is you actually cared about facts, instead of just making stuff up and declaring it to be true.

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  29. Terrye Cravens says:

    @wr: I did check into the facts. You must have missed my point. Harris went after Biden for something that was not his fault. That is my point. Did the federal government force busing in Berkeley? No. Was busing already mandated before Harris was even old enough to go to school? Yes. Biden supported integration, he was not a racist..back in 1973 5% of white people supported forced busing….9% of black people…according to Gallup. That does not mean they did not support integration.

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  30. Terrye Cravens says:

    Biden has a long history of supporting civil rights. He did not deserve this.

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  31. Modulo Myself says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    Right, opposition to busing was pretty universal, like in South Boston when angry mobs of whites showed up to threaten young black kids. But I’m sure the parents of those kids were on the side of the white mob, just like Joe Biden.

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  32. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    You must have missed my point. Harris went after Biden for something that was not his fault. That is my point.

    That was one of your points. The other point you made was:

    Harris was born October 1964. Berkeley’s busing plan dates to 1968. I am not saying she was not bused, I am saying she was not in the second class to be bused. That part of her story was false.

    and

    And considering the fact that Harris was born in 1964 and the liberal city of Berkeley started busing in 1968, there is no way she was in the second class to be bused. Maybe she lied…maybe she was mistaken, but the episode was pure demagoguery.

    You made it quite clear that Harris supposedly lying about her being in the ‘2nd class” to be bused was a point you were trying to make, and important one. When people pointed out that, no, it appears Harris is not lying about this, you refused to read why and doubled down on calling Harris is a liar.

    I think people want you to acknowledge you were wrong to call Harris a liar about her busing situation when it’s clear she wasn’t a liar. Saying the commentors are missing the point is disingenuous. You are changing the point you are making. Or, de-emphasizing a point you earlier emphasized.

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  33. Neil Hudelson says:

    In case it isn’t clear why Harris isn’t lying:
    -Berkley starts busing the year Harris turns 4.
    -The next year, when she is 5 and is enrolling in school, she is bused–that is, she’s in the second ‘class’ or year of people being bused.

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  34. Terrye Cravens says:

    @wr: I think that is where the confusion comes in, because they also say that private insurance will go away..except for cosmetic purposes. That is a bit murky. I think most people want government to help them gain access to health care, but that does not mean 180 million people want to lose what they have now.

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  35. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I think she was being dishonest…both about her own situation and Biden’s policy at the time. She created the impression that Biden did not support integration. That is a lie. Biden supported compulsory busing when segregation is explicitly enforced by government policy or law. He did not try to stop Berkeley from busing students…his position was mainstream Democrat at the time and was consistent with public opinion. Harris treated him like a villain in her play.

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  36. Terrye Cravens says:

    What was he supposed to do? What would have made her happy? What would have taken away the “hurt” she said he caused her?

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    What would have taken away the “hurt” she said he caused her?

    You putting scare quotes around the word hurt, considering she was referring to nasty racist Dixecrats, says more about you than it does about her…

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  38. Jen says:

    @Terrye Cravens: It’s sounding more and more to me like you’re mad at Harris for issuing a few zingers at your preferred candidate.

    If that’s the case, you might want to turn off the TV until the primaries are over.

    With this many candidates, there’s bound to be some slings & arrows. Politics ain’t beanbag, as they say, and as Biden is the nominal front runner, he’s got the biggest target on him.

    It WILL get nasty. It WILL get personal. But when it’s all over, we need to get a grip and put our big girl panties on and vote. Taking our marbles and going home isn’t an option.

    Republicans get this; they always vote, no matter how much they hate their nominee.

    We don’t have that luxury, and if your major beef is that the mean girl picked on poor ol’ Joe, this is going to be a really long year+ for you.

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  39. Terrye Cravens says:

    @An Interested Party: I put those scare quotes there because I thought the whole thing was absurd. BTW, if Democrats honestly believe that compulsory busing is a good idea and that only racists would have a problem with the federal government enforcing racial quotas in schools…then they can make it part of the party platform. But I did not hear Kamala saying we should bring back busing. That is because most people, white and black, Democrat and Republican, did not much like it. I still do not know what he was supposed to say or do.

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  40. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Jen: Jen, I don’t have a problem with policy differences. I do have a problem with malicious attacks based on lies and innuendos.

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  41. EddieInCA says:

    @Guarneri:

    Throw in a lifetime supply of ProV1s and they’ve got my vote……..

    Why? You couldn’t hit the center of the fairway if you tried. Every shot would go right, exactly like your commentary.

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  42. wr says:

    @Terrye Cravens: I still have no idea what your “point” is. I was responding to you calling Harris a liar because you decided that your quick calculation was more accurate than her actual experience with being bused. You called her a liar and said there was no way she was in the second class bused — or have you already forgotten that now that you’ve been proved wrong?

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  43. Kari Q says:

    @wr:

    And M4A would dramatically reduce the premiums people pay even if they bought the best possible supplement plan. For my husband and I, premiums on an ACA silver plan were $1,300 a month. That’s close to a supplement plan premium for a year.

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  44. An Interested Party says:

    I put those scare quotes there because I thought the whole thing was absurd.

    So…for a black woman to talk about the hurt of racists is absurd? Obviously you’ve never been a victim of racism…

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  45. Scott F. says:

    @Terrye Cravens: You stopped listening to Senator Harris when you got your dander up and you should go review that exchange again, since she spoke clearly and explicitly about what you are complaining about now.

    Yes, federally compulsory busing was broadly opposed at the time of Biden’s vote against it, but a vote in favor would still have been the right thing to do to improve racial integration and a federal law was only necessarily precisely for the fact the local districts were actively resisting integration. Senator Harris was fortunate enough to benefit from the school integration resulting from Berkeley busing, but even there it took decades to make happen. Other black children in other districts across the country weren’t nearly so lucky as busing was vehemently opposed. Biden’s vote was detrimental to the country’s African Americans and continuing de facto segregation of schools in this country continues to drive racial inequality.

    Biden’s votes and collaboration were of that time, so perhaps it is a little unfair to blame him for that too much in this time. But, this time ain’t that time and Biden refuses to understand that. He’s had 40 years to reflect on his vote on busing and acknowledge the hurt he caused. All Kamala Harris did was point out that Biden is stuck in an era of Democratic/Republican comity that no longer exists.

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  46. Guarneri says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I hit a draw. But then I’ve never known you to get anything correct…….

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  47. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    LOL Keep whistling, the grave yard ends at the end of the block. Trump won without even showing up.

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  48. Tony W says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    Biden has a long history of supporting civil rights. He did not deserve this.

    He also took part in the Anita Hill hearings, and it wasn’t flattering in any way. Biden is a man of his time, and I believe regrets earlier viewpoints that were mainstream, but now are not.

    I don’t think that stuff is disqualifying, but on the other hand we have newer generations with new ideas and maybe it’s time we move to a candidate like Mayor Pete or Kamala Harris.

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  49. Teve says:

    I said on here a week ago that Biden would fade. Today I’m seeing a few friends on FB who were serious Biden supporters who are expressing shock. I’ll be surprised if August comes around and Warren or Harris isn’t the frontrunner.

    ETA: FWIW I don’t think Biden’s a bad person, but nobody’s owed the presidency, and he doesn’t really bring anything new and exciting. Paul Tsongas probly woulda made a fine president, but it wasn’t in the cards.

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  50. Guarneri says:

    The DNC wants and needs Biden. He’s not going away.

    Kamala. She knows what to do. Willie Brown taught her. VP nominee.

    Pocahontas. She needs to get her a beer.

    Bernie. He gone.

    Mayor Pete. He gone.

    Booker. Spartacus is as genuine as the movie character. He gone.

    Beto. Zero plus zero equals zero. He gone.

    All the rest. WTFCares.

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  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Terrye Cravens: She was born in JULY of 1964 (just as I was, I might add) so she was eligible to start KINDERGARTEN in September of 1969 as she was 5 already (just as had been my case). So that would have made her a member of the SECOND class to be bused to school in that district. But don’t feel bad, this sort of math is starting to get hard for me too, now that I am older.

    (BTW: Did you go to school in Seattle? I had a Terrye Cravens as a classmate.)

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  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    She created the impression that Biden did not support integration.

    Biden said that he did not oppose integration, only integration by the Department of Education. You’re old enough to remember that this is the dodge that every cracker who’s ever worn a pillowcase over his head to a lynching has used to look like there not really that worthless bigoted cracker.

    I agree with Harris. Biden is not a racist. But he carried their water for them back in the day. He needs to own this.

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  53. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Guarneri: (Personally, I agree with you. But…) I see you still haven’t gotten rid of your squatter? Get a lease yet?

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I need to clarify something it that post. I wrote: “She was born in JULY of 1964 (just as I was, I might add).” But I was not born in July of 1964, but July of 1952, so the “just as” was only for the month. I was a junior in high school the year she was first bused and many (most) of my classmates had been born in 1951. In my day, some parents waited for summer born children to become 6 before they started Kindergarden so that they wouldn’t be younger than their classmates. Mine chose not to.

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  55. SKI says:

    @Terrye Cravens:
    1. She didn’t embellish her story at all. You are lying – either to yourself or to us but what you say isn’t accurate.
    2. She didn’t say he was responsible. She said that his recent comments about bragging about working with segregationists hurt her – particularly as he worked with them on anti-bussing legislation. That is all accurate. It isn’t a cheap shot.
    3. Glad to argue the merits. No question bussing was unpopular. So was desegregation in general, particularly if it impacts your kids schools. And there were riots over that too.

    Jim Crow was popular in the South too. And anti-miscegenation laws. And discrimination against gays. And women not being treated as equal members of the workforce. In the late 90’s I remember an associate being told that he would get a smaller raise because the other associate had a wife to support and his wife worked. Being popular doesn’t make it right.

    Harris actually gave Biden an out. She asked him if he still believed in the legislation he worked with the segregationists on. He chose to defend what he did – and defended it by saying, accurately I believe, that he supported integration but was defending “States Rights”. Given your age, you know *exactly* who has used that phrase in the past 50 years and what they have meant by it. It was a *really* bad look by Biden and Harris didn’t cause it. He did it to himself.

    You clearly like Joe. Great. But you are also very clearly not being honest about what happened last night. As suggested above, I don’t know if that is willful of self-deception – a story you have to tell yourself – but it isn’t a good look.

    @Terrye Cravens:

    I think she was being dishonest…both about her own situation and Biden’s policy at the time. She created the impression that Biden did not support integration. That is a lie.

    She didn’t say anything about supporting or opposing integration. Biden did. She pointed out he opposed bussing. His defense was that he was protecting State’s rights. He did that, not Harris.

    Biden supported compulsory busing when segregation is explicitly enforced by government policy or law.

    What? NO.
    He opposed, and stated last night he still opposes, tbussing mandates if a locality doesn’t want to.

    He did not try to stop Berkeley from busing students…his position was mainstream Democrat at the time and was consistent with public opinion. Harris treated him like a villain in her play.

    You apparently are really angry that Biden screwed up and you are blaming Harris for doing her job accurately and effectively.

    @Terrye Cravens:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    She created the impression that Biden did not support integration. That is a lie. Biden supported compulsory busing when segregation is explicitly enforced by government policy or law. He did not try to stop Berkeley from busing students…

    The text of the Amendment Biden sponsored in 1975: “None of the funds appropriated under this act shall be used to require any school, school system or other educational institution, as a condition for receiving funds, grants, or other benefits from the Federal Government, to assign students or teachers by race.”
    Note that the text doesn’t actually say anything about bussing, it refers to forced integration.

    I don’t have a problem with policy differences. I do have a problem with malicious attacks based on lies and innuendos.

    How was what Harris actually said malicious or a lie? She accurately pointed out his position that he opposed bussing. Biden confirmed that was and remains his position – a position you clearly support. So what she said was accurate, not a lie.

    And remember that she started her comment with the flat statement that she did not think he was racist – so she wasn’t implying he was.

    Biden went on to say that he supported anti-bussing legislation because he thought it should be up to the state’s and localities, not the federal government.

    Harris, appropriately and accurately, pointed out that many states and localities in this country have a LOOOONNNGGGG track record of not respecting their minority citizen’s civil rights and that is why we have needed federal intervention and federal legislation protecting those rights.

    Look. No one seriously thinks Biden is a racist. What Biden (and you apparently) seem unable to accept is that defensible positions 40 and 50 years ago aren’t defensible anymore. Being anti-integration on the grounds of “state’s rights” is one of those things. We know better today. Harris will have to face this too in that a number of decisions she made as California AG look really bad a decade later. Biden better figure out a way to better way to deal with the decisions he made in the past, like the Crime Bill and the Anita Hill hearings, or his candidacy is doomed. There is a reason that long-serving Senators rarely win the White House.

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  56. Gustopher says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    What was he supposed to do? What would have made her happy? What would have taken away the “hurt” she said he caused her?

    That he was wrong. That he was working with the possible. That the vote wasn’t going to be close, and his constituents were against it and wanted to save his political capital for something that would make a difference.

    Something that might be the truth. It was a bad vote, certainly by today’s standards, and he could put it in context.

    Biden has a long history. If he is the nominee, he’s going to be attacked by the Trumpers on things like this, to discourage the black vote (the Democrats are the real racists, you know), and he has to be able to respond well.

    Harris was doing this gently.

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  57. KM says:

    @Jen:
    Bingo! @Terrye keeps complaining that Harris was being mean and “dishonest” to Biden and keeps pointing out things like “mainstream position”, “opinions” and that race riots happened as justification. Meanwhile, she’s effectively calling Harris a liar with no proof simply because she doesn’t like the implications it might shed on her favorite candidate. She’s taking it weirdly personal on Biden’s behalf and seems to be projecting her own offended state onto him.

    Look, one of Biden’s great weaknesses is going to be his “fair at the time” attitudes and policies and the fact that he still clearly holds some of them right now. Time marches on – what might have been the compassionate or insanely liberal position back in the day may now be regressive or even offensive. Biden has shown a tendency to still be stuck in the 90’s on some issues and he’s going to rightly get called on it since duh, it’s not the 90’s anymore. The entire point of a primary is to be able to do this – Biden needs to appeal to all Dems, not just older folks who want a return to the way it was.

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  58. KM says:

    @Teve:
    Biden’s getting mostly love from older folks, name recognition and those who are letting nostalgia filter drag them into line with “do you want Trump again? This is how you get Trump!”

    Older folks: He’s like them! He has the same positions and feelings they do! If he’s out of touch, what does that mean for them? They’re still liberal even if these “woke” kids keep pushing things. Why can’t we just go back to the time when we all worked together, bi-partisan was A-OK and DADA and civil unions were a reasonable alternatives because we need to consider the other side’s feelings and timetable on the issue too!

    Name recognition: Hey, isn’t that Obama’s dude? Yeah, I think I saw a meme about them or something. He’s was the VP? Cool, cool, let’s go with him. He looks like an OK guy, I guess….

    Nostalgia filter: See above but back through the decades. Gets weirdly defensive when specific get brought up and cites “that’s how it was back then!” when you question something that’s kinda iffy. Will turn on you, point out “Biden’s the most electable” without quantifying what that actually means and say that not supporting him is giving Trump a second term.

    It’s an incredibly circular logic train. He’s electable because he can beat Trump and he will be Trump because everyone says he’s so electable. Asking for details or pointing out flaws gets you…. well, gets you @Terrye.

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  59. Teve says:

    @KM: I’m connected at the hip to the Tweety machine, which is slightly more liberal than the average Democrat, so I’m highly likely to have a distorted picture of things, but I don’t see Joe fending off the more dynamic competition.

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  60. bookdragon says:

    @wr: Also, did Berkeley not having kindergarten? I’m not quite a year younger than Harris and started public school in kindergarten in 1970, so I don’t see why she wouldn’t have started in 1969.

    Either way, the claim @Terrye Cravens keeps making that Harris called Biden a racist is blatantly a lie. Harris literally began her comment on busing at the debate by stating that she did not think Biden was a racist and wasn’t saying he was. :rolling_eyes:

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  61. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Such erudite commentary.

    Your momma wears Army boots…….

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  62. Guarneri says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. But carry on………

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  63. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Guarneri: The juxtapostion of your comment to me immediately after a nonsense retort to the guy who seems to be living in your head rent-free is… well, ironic comes to mind.
    But carry on, rant away.

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  64. wr says:

    @bookdragon: “Also, did Berkeley not having kindergarten? ”

    They did. I went to kindergarten in the basement of an Epworth Methodist Church — still have no idea what that is all these years later — because of construction work at the school across the street from our house…

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  65. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I actually thought her attack…and Corey Booker’s for that matter was/is lame.

    Ohhh laaawwd! Mista Biden done say some hurty thangs an ours feelings is hurt…waaaaaaahhhhh.

    Totally not interested in seeing black people show mental fragility over “dumb things white people say”. You’d be hurt all day Damn near every day. I know she had to go after Joe but it just wasn’t a good fit for her swag. Obama would have never went the hurt/offended/apology route. She needs to trust her instincts more and veto her staff when they cramp her style.

    The rascist sympathizer attack against Joe is a one time deal. Not only that, but any other candidate that uses it in the future won’t even move the needle with it. Trump is impervious to it. Joe caddied for Obama faithfully for 8 years…it’s going to take more than a zinger in a debate no one (but the most energized liberals) watched to take him down.

    As a broader point, I actually agree with the past logic Sen Biden had about busing. The context of the urgency of now, however, made busing the only viable option for the times.

    Fundamentally, the idea that black people can’t receive high quality social services—unless they come from majority white institutions is prejudice to its very core. I’ve listened to the audio, that was his point…I tend to agree. I went to an HBCU. We had brilliant black professors and administrators. I’m not sure why the follow-up phase to busing wasn’t to build a cadre of black primary school teachers who would be from the community they served– and serve kids from their communities.

    Integration created a giant vacuum in the black community sucking both the best teachers and students with the most motivated parents into white communities…which in effect dug a giant moat around these communities that the most vulnerable people got trapped in. That dark side of integration still exists today.

    Ironically, schools are now just as segregated as they were in the 60s.

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