It Was More About Joe Biden's Failure To Respond Well To Kamala Harris Attack On Him , Then It Was About Harris Herself
“I did not oppose busing in America.”
— Joe Biden
Everyone knew that someone was going to bring up Joe Biden's history of opposing busing, and as the only black on the day two stage, odds were it was going to be Kamala Harris. Like many other people, I didnt think Biden handled it well. When Harris said she was bused to school in Berkely California as a child , Biden answered that was because the local authorities out there chose to do so. He said that he had opposed federally mandated busing. He told Harris that he hadn't opposed busing itself, rather that he had opposed busing ordered by the (U.S.) Department Of Education.
In an instant Biden had made himself into a proponent of "states rights", often seen as a catchall defense of racially discriminatory policies, mostly in the south. And of course, the confederate revisionist version of why the south seceded in 1860 was so as to defend the concept of "state's rights". It is hard to imagine that Biden really believes there is worth in invoking states rights at a Democratic debate in 2019.
When Biden becomes defensive he shows signs of losing his temper, and he is probably lucky a ten person debate format of 30 second or one minute replies prevents one from really losing it. As it is , the exchange with Harris made Biden look old. Any monkey wrench thrown at a 77 year old tends to amplify his 77 years in a way that the same monkey wrench thrown at a 47 year old may go by unnoticed.
I think it is still true that the eventual Democratic candidate will "tack to the middle" in the general election. Kamala Harris is not a radical, she will eventually be seen as more in the center of the Democratic Party than the left. Whether the nominee is Harris, Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar Booker, or even Elizabeth Warren , the Democratic candidate will campaign on a center left agenda, not "socialism".
Joe Biden did not have a good night last night, not because Harris launched some impressively brilliant or unusual attack on him , but because his response and demeanor made him look old. He better start getting younger soon.