MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 27: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) take part in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Opinion editorial by WBZ NewsRadio political analyst Jon Keller
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Wow, that crowd of Democrats on the debate stage in Miami last night sure were intent on creating their viral moment.
Surely the most memorable moment of the evening was former Vice President Joe Biden’s emotional argument with Sen. Kamala Harris over his long-ago opposition to federally-mandated school busing. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in polls over the next few days.
Black voters have been some of Biden’s most avid early supporters, in part due to his close association with President Obama.
Even though Harris prefaced her criticism by saying she doesn’t consider Biden a racist, that may now change, and if it does so dramatically, Biden is in trouble.
But Harris’s clear implication – that, back in the 1970s at least, Biden was less than stalwart in his opposition to segregation – calls for a quick history lesson.
While all segregationists were, by definition, racists, not all critics of mandated busing were.
Here in Boston, a federal judge who lived in Wellesley exempted all-white suburbs from his desegregation order, and did little to hide his contempt for the working-class whites who opposed his work.
And the record shows that, more than 40 years later, busing didn’t do much to end racial segregation or provide equal educational opportunity.
Joe Biden didn’t handle that exchange well.
How much it damages him may depend on how long voter memories are.
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