Protected by Gardol shield: Several weeks later, the question lingers, though it's largely unasked:
Was mandated busing a good idea in 1973? If so, not support it today?
In a slightly more rational world, the question would go to Candidate Harris, since she's the one who raised this question during the first Democratic "debates."
That said, we live in a tribal, not a rational, world. According to major anthropologists familiar with this non-dispute dispute, Harris is being swathed in layers of privilege—layers of privilege designed to keep current tribal "fictions" alive.
"This is simply the way the human brain worked," these forlorn future experts have said, speaking in the past tense.
According to these future experts, Candidate Harris should have been pushed much harder on the basic question we've posed. This is why they've said this:
Harris has made the mandated claim according to which public school segregation is worse today than it was in the past.
If that's so, why doesn't she propose large-scale federally mandated busing to address the situation? If Biden should have supported the practice back then, why isn't she proposing the practice today?
By the end of last week, it was clear that Harris was having a whole lot of trouble answering that basic question. The humor came when mainstream journalists worked to protect her from this problem, thereby keeping themselves in line with narratives and novelizations preferred by the tribe and the guild.
We've been describing this process of novelization for more than twenty years. That said, nothing stops our misfiring species from telling the stories it likes.
A protective shield has been built around Harris. We offer three examples:
Ella Nilson in Vox:
We chuckled when youngish Ella Nilson (UNH, class of 2013) tried to handle this topic for Vox.
Presumably, Nilson's salary is low; this helps Vox survive. On the downside, young liberals are handed remarkably murky "journalism" which appears beneath headlines like these:
Kamala Harris is fielding questions about her stance on federally mandated busingHow strange! If public school segregation is worse today than it was in the past, why wouldn't federally mandated busing be a good idea today? Nilson's bow to tribal verities started out like this:
Harris says federally mandated busing was needed in the 1970s but is rarely needed today.
NILSON (7/5/19): Kamala Harris and Joe Biden aren’t done sorting out the fallout from her lightning rod moment at last week’s Democratic debate, when the senator criticized the former vice president for his record on school busing.According to Nilson, Candidate Harris' lightning rod moment sent Candidate Biden reeling and solidified Harris' ascent! And not only that—Harris had "successfully portrayed Biden as out of touch with the current Democratic Party," the youngish scribe murkily said.
The attack sent Biden reeling and solidified Harris’s ascent into the 2020 presidential field’s top tier. Harris successfully portrayed Biden as out of touch with the current Democratic Party, but after her viral moment, she is also being asked to go on the record about how she would handle busing in the current era.
At a recent campaign event in Iowa, Harris said that while federally mandated busing was necessary to integrate schools in the 1960s and ’70s, she didn’t think it was necessary now, because she no longer sees state or local opposition to integration. In fact, she said she believed it was a decision that should be left up to local school districts and municipalities, rather than the federal government.
“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,” Harris said. “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.”
Why then isn't Candidate Harris proposing mandated busing? Swaddling Harris in a type of "Gardol shield," the youngish reporter ended up saying this:
NILSON: Segregation and busing are not nearly as big an issue today as they were in the middle of the civil rights era (although there’s data to suggest progress on desegregation has actually stalled in recent years).There! According to Nilson, segregation and busing aren't nearly as big an issue today!
But as Vox’s P.R. Lockhart wrote, “These critiques of Biden are clearly intended to make a broader point: that the former vice president, in continuing to defend his stance on busing, is out of step with the current Democratic electorate on issues of race and fighting racism. And that could be an issue for many of the black voters Biden is counting on for support.”
In some way, is that supposed to explain why Candidate Harris proposes no large-scale busing, even though Biden should have supported it in 1973? Nilson went on to quote the even younger P. J. Lockhardt (Duke 2014), who offered a thoroughly murky statement designed to quell further discussion:
By defending his anti-busing stance, Biden is out of step with the current party electorate!
So this woke youngster is said to have said. But since Harris also seems to oppose mandated busing, why isn't she out of step with the electorate too?
Nilson never quite addresses that point. Along the way, she says this: "there’s data to suggest progress on desegregation has actually stalled in recent years."
In fact, Harris has said that public school desegregation is worse than it was in the past. Vox readers were spared from learning this fact, perhaps because it undermines the protective swaddling of the demagogue, the current tribal line.
Is Ezra Klein still in charge of this site? Its product is quit poor, though in that sense quite human.
Judy and the geriatrics:
In fairness, Nilson ends up saying that Harris needs to explain her position. No such suggestion was offered that evening on The PBS NewsHour.
Judy Woodruff invited Brooks and Tumulty to discuss the Biden-Harris non-dispute dispute. (This was the standard Friday night "Brooks and Shields" discussion segment, with Karen Tumulty subbing for Mark Shields.)
By now, it had been clear for several days that Harris was having a hard time explaining her own position on large-scale mandated busing.
That said, so what? In the course of a fairly lengthy discussion, Harris' problem went unmentioned on The NewsHour—but every crime in Oklahoma was added to Biden's name! To watch the segment or read the transcript, you can just click here.
Balz maintains narrative too:
The younger scribes were weak at Vox, but how about the aging mainstream authority figures—the ones who sent Candidate Gore to the ovens during a twenty-month war in 1999 and 2000?
Judy Woodruff was part of that gang. To a lesser extent, so was the Washington Post's Dan Balz. Below, you see the way the seasoned charioteer struggled to Keep Script Alive in Sunday's print editions:
BALZ (7/7/19): In the debate, Harris talked about herself as a beneficiary of school busing as a child and attacked Biden’s past position. She has since made clear that, while she believes busing should be available as a tool for local school districts dealing with issues of integration, she does not favor busing mandated by the federal government.You seem to get two different choices there:
To which the Biden forces ask: Well then, why was she criticizing the former vice president for opposing mandatory busing in his state of Delaware back in the early 1970s when he was a young senator? What was that attack about if the two currently share the same position on mandated busing? To which the Harris camp responds: The real issue is whether Biden regrets “working with segregationists against busing in the 1970s.” Does he have any regrets about the position he took then?
Harris is the embodiment of a new generation of Democrats, especially those of color, who see the world differently than those of Biden’s generation and will judge him through a different lens. To them, his position on busing in the 1970s was wrong, and on the wrong side of history, regardless of what people think about the use of busing in school districts today.
Biden had the right position in the 1970s, but he was agreeing with the wrong people!
Biden's position on busing was wrong back then, and who cares what a "Democrat of color" says about this topic today? Such Dems will be "judged through a different lens!" In short, there are two different standards at play!
The anthropologists with whom we consult report to us from the years which follow the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.
"This is the way we got to that war," these disconsolate scholars despondently say. "Within this hapless, misfiring species, different candidates were constantly 'judged through a different lens.' "
According to these future analysts, Candidate Harris is being swaddled in privilege by both the tribe and the guild. In effect, she's being protected by a modern-day "Gardol shield."
Why doesn't Harris propose mandated busing? Tons of gorilla dust have appeared, keeping that question obscured.
According to our future experts, the tribe and the guild are struggling hard to disappear a forbidden fact:
Dems of color can be demagogic too! Just like everyone else!