It was as if “Sleepy Joe” Biden had been jolted awake and found himself in a terrifying parallel universe.
No longer was he the former senator and vice-president who once lunched weekly with Barack Obama at the White House. Instead he was the accused, standing in the dock under the hot lights on a debate stage in Miami, as a fierce and formidable prosecutor tore into his record on race.
The inquisitor was Senator Kamala Harris, ablack and Asian American former prosecutor and California attorney general and who has shown a rare talent for making Jeff Sessions and other ageing white men in power squirm. Harris was surely the stand-out performer of the second in a pair of primary debates this week where the world could see a generational shift in the Democratic party happening before its eyes.
In the most dramatic moment, Harris challenged former Biden over his recent comments about working with segregationist senators early in his career, as well as opposing government-mandated bussing – transporting students to schools within or outside their local districts to rectify racial segregation – in the 1970s. It was an exchange that illustrated a yawning gap in age and race.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” she said in a withering tone for which she is becoming famous.
“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 career on the segregation of race in this country.”
The senator pressed on: “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.”
Then, the killer line: “That little girl was me.” [Continue reading…]