Hours before night two of the Democratic presidential debates commenced, Joe Biden surrogate and Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons stressed for civility between the presidential contenders, arguing in an interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt that the candidates should focus on their policy ideas rather than fighting with each other because there’s already a “bully in the White House.”
I’m so glad Kamala Harris paid no mind to the likes of Chris Coons and his useless advice, opting instead to go after the former vice president for not only his boasting of working with noted segregationists during what he considered to be a more “civil” time in the Senate, but on the specific legislation they worked together on.
During a discussion of Pete Buttigieg’s handling of a police officer shooting a Black man in Buttigieg’s city of Alabama, Harris, seemingly tired of watching white people talk about racism without the input of the sole Black person on stage, inserted herself into the conversation and used as an opportunity to criticize Biden to his face.
“I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris told him, “but I also believe and it is personal and it was actually 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. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.”
Kamala Harris had already made her mark in the debate — particularly when she grew tired of her colleagues on stage talking over each other and finally declared: “Guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They wanna know how we’re gonna put food on their table.”
It was a good line delivered at the right moment because with all of that needless bickering, the debate was starting to give Love & Hip Hop reunion, and if you don’t believe me, you can see the tweet from the reunion host making a similar comparison.
If Harris is to win the Democratic nomination, her decision to not only take on Biden for his remarks directly will be a defining moment, but so will the manner in which she chose to do will likely be viewed as her breakout moment of the campaign. By personalizing bussing and desegregation, Harris was able to not only highlight how systemic racism impacted her directly but put Biden on the defensive.
It’s remarkable to consider that Biden knew his remarks would be mentioned at the debate yet he failed to mount a proper defense. No one itching to beat a bigot for president in the next election should be arguing about why they felt states were best in charge of enacting civil rights over the federal government. For months now, we’ve been told about Biden’s “electability,” and in a single debate performance, Biden reminded us that actually, he’s not very good at running for president.
Biden wasn’t the worst, but his limitations and liabilities are more obvious than ever.
As for the others, Kristen Gillibrand was almost Bill de Blasio like in her numerous interjections into the debate. However, more often than not, she made sense and always maximized the time she was given or reached for and snatched up.
When it comes to the white men, his name is Michael Bennet but he ain’t really in it to win it, so let’s move on. Eric Swalwell undoubtedly tried to create as many moments as possible, but if I were to surmise his night succinctly, I’ll put it like this: he thinks Joe Biden is old and can’t nail his prepared lines as well as he believes he can yet.
John Hickenlooper has the unfortunate belief that repeating “socialism” is bad over and over again makes him more endearing to voters. I’m embarrassed for him. Someone tell that man to stop trying to cruise centrists and go fill out a form to run for Senate in Colorado.
Pete Buttigieg deserves credit for two things. Although the question was flawed in its framing – it should have been “Why has police diversity gotten worse under his watch?” rather than “Why hasn’t it gotten better” – Buttigieg said something most politicians in his position don’t do: admitted fault.
“I couldn’t get it done” is not a substantial enough answer but it is rare to find a politician willing to admit fault. Moreover, Buttigieg continues to highlight the hypocrisy of the Christian right — an act more Democrats should duplicate. Overall, though, he wasn’t that especially memorable, but given the week he had last week, I guess that’s something.
Andrew Yang didn’t wear a tie and said “ass.” I don’t have much more to add than that. Marianne Willamson did nothing but remind me how untrustworthy the electorate is. With all due respect to the self-help author, anti-vaxxers and people who have no idea of what they’re talking about are more of a Republican primary kind of thing. If you are into presidential candidates that remind you of polite weird people you meet at a farmer’s market, she’s the one for you. Yes, I did laugh at her promising to “harness love,” but please don’t let her on the next debate.
Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders. His consistency is his strong suit, though much like the line of questioning aimed at Elizabeth Warren the night prior, I don’t appreciate how their proposals are constantly besieged with the underlying sentiment that they cannot be paid for. That’s never said of Republican-crafted tax cuts to rich people and corporations — another quip from Harris that night.
Bernie did fine. Gillibrand was fine. All of them outside of Marianne were fine.
However, this will be remembered as Kamala Harris’ night because she didn’t have to yell to be heard which set her apart from the candidates who clearly need a tick in donations, and most of all, she dragged another old white man on national television. Thankfully, it was the old white man who deserved it the most. In response to Swalwell’s shots at his age, Biden said he still carried the torch.
If there’s anyone who can snatch it from his hands, it’s the woman who decided to stop playing nice and call him out.