Is anyone — including Harris herself — in favor of reviving busing as a federal policy? Is there any evidence that such a policy is less polarizing in 2019 than it was in the mid-1970s, when it helped to conjure out of thin air that historically decisive electoral demographic known as the Reagan Democrat? The answer to both questions is no. Most astonishingly, we know that Harris isn’t proposing to revive federally mandated busing because she’s since clarified that her own position on the issue is … the same as Biden’s (allowing local communities to use busing for desegregation while opposing a federal requirement that they do so).
But then why on Earth did she pick a fight with Biden over the issue? The most likely answer is that she suspected, rightly, that doing so would make the 70-something white male frontrunner squirm, appear defensive, and stumble around on the debate stage. In that she was correct: Mission accomplished. But what about the Republican attack ads that can now be crafted using her own words to make it sound like she favors federally mandated busing? Those ads will nicely compliment the other attack ads that will use Harris’ own hand gesture on the debate stage to show that she favors abolishing private health insurance for tens of millions of Americans (which is broadly unpopular). The fact that on this, too, Harris has flip-flopped looks ridiculous — not least because she went through precisely the same flip-flop six months ago.
This is bad.