Thursday, July 04, 2019

She Was For It Before She Was Against It

The clarion call of segregationists during, and prior to, the civil rights era was "states rights."  The racial right wing was not opposed to uplifting the "Negro race" (times were different then) nor to integration, the argument went, but states must have the right and ability to determine how and when it is done so it is in accord with the wishes of their residents.

Kamala Harris was having none of it on Thursday night when she said

And I–I was actually very–it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.

And, you know, 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.....

Similarly, later that night she told MSNBC and its viewers

I was actually a bit surprised to hear how he described, in defense of his position, his perspective on the role of the federal government, and in particular, he mentioned the Department of Education. We have so many examples in history where states have limited or restricted people’s civil rights . . . We have certain values that are national standards, and we’re not going to let states compromise that.

What a difference (less than) a week makes.  On Wednesday, July 3 Senator Harris stated

that busing students should be considered by school districts trying to desegregate their locations — not the federal mandate she appeared to support in pointedly criticizing rival Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden last week.

Harris had a breakthrough moment at the candidates’ first debate when she criticized Biden for his opposition to mandatory school busing when he was a senator in the 1970s. Harris said she benefited from busing as an elementary school student in Berkeley, California, in the early 1970s.

“That’s where the federal government must step in,” Harris said, looking at Biden and winning a burst of applause from the auditorium in Miami....

After a Democratic Party picnic Wednesday in West Des Moines, Harris was asked by reporters whether she supports federally mandated busing.

“I think of busing as being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools,” she responded.

Asked to clarify whether she supports federally mandated busing, she replied, “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.”

That was Joe Biden's argument on Thursday. As of this writing, Biden Jr. hasn't been asked about how one week she complained that little children like her were kept down by segregationists and allies such as Biden, and that one week later she had decided that his policy was right-on-target.  It's one thing to  flip-flop; it's another to reverse course once you've expressed the righteous outrage of a politician selling the notion that the slightest deviation from the civil rights agenda is a betrayal of little girls everywhere.

Nonetheless, unless Harris is condemned far more robustly than she has as of this writing (late morning of July 4), her mission has been accomplished. The Californian after her debate performance- and now we can indeed recognize it as a "performance"- raised tons more money, and her standing in polls pitting her against rivals rose dramatically.

Harris no doubt realizes that she needs only to be competitive in Iowa and New Hampshire to hold most of the cards in South Carolina. If she has to change her positions on health care, school busing, and a whole host of issues along the way, the odor of hypocrisy is a small price to pay for the big price on July 15, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

                                                 HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

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