On Monday's installment of MSNBC Live, two Morning Joe regulars had a real debate about presidential candidate Kamala Harris trying to exploit the issue of busing against Joe Biden. Commentary associate editor Noah Rothman strongly criticized Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris for wanting to bring back busing and said she was playing a dangerous political game in doing so. Rothman's arguments led to a heated argument with Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. that featured constant interruptions and Glaude pointing his finger at Rothman's face.
It all began with Rothman conceding that Harris' attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden provided "a great moment of political theater," but was playing a risky game of I'm not saying what I'm saying because Democratic voters "are not going to believe Barack Obama's vice president for eight years harbors racial hostility." He mocked the idea Harris supporting an issue "we don’t have any polling on in this century" because it "was among the most unpopular, most ineffective, counter-productive failure on its own merits."
After MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar tried to defend Harris by saying her comments weren't about busing, Rothman was unconvinced, declaring "We are now talking about the legacy of busing which accelerated geographic sorting and disenfranchised African-American students." With that, the battle with Glaude kicked off.
Pointing his finger at Rothman, Glaude told Rothman that, "You constantly do this," to which Rothman amusingly declared, "I do explain myself. I have a bit that of doing that." Glaude said that busing failed because white families did not want black students in their schools. Rothman stated that this was an unfair interpretation, because plenty of African-American opposed the policy as well. "Of course they rejected the policy. Because they wanted their schools to be better resourced and didn't want their kids going into dens of hatred," Glaude responded.
After Glaude stated that "We both can agree busing failed," Rothman turned to the camera as if to say "I rest my case." Glaude finished his sentence by saying, "but we need to understand why it failed."
Following more crosstalk, guest host Chris Jansing tried to rein in the segment by asking Glaude if Harris' ploy will make it harder for Democrats to win in November.
Glaude not only said it would not, but that Democrats should stop "trying to appeal to Reagan Democrats that we lost so long ago. What we need to do is put forward bold, courageous vision for country moving forward and call out not just simply the loud racists but those who have been complicit in maintaining systems of inequality by offering these sorts of arguments" by trying to re-energize and expand the coalition that got Obama elected in 2008 and 2012.
Here is a transcript for the July 1 show:
MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle
July 1, 2019
9:34 a.m. Eastern
NOAH ROTHMAN: The question is can Kamala Harris this momentum and there is momentum. It was a great moment of political theater on the debate stage that night. But this is a risky game for Kamala Harris to play. The implication that she's making, which all of us sentient people understand is that your support for segregationist, your opposition to busing we can charitably chalk that up to ignorance but its ignorance with a layer of racial hostility. That's not something that Democratic voters are going to believe. They are not going to believe Barack Obama's vice president for eight years harbors racial hostility. Second, she…
CHRIS JANSING: Well, the first thing she said was she did not believe he’s racist
ROTHMAN: She's making a very concerted effort to say I am not saying what I am saying, because it’s a very difficult thing to say and what she’s done now is compel herself to embrace busing, she’s now come out in support of forced busing which we don’t have any polling on in this century because its really a dead political issue but it was among the most unpopular, most ineffective, counter-productive failure on its own merits proposal she has now embraced.
EDDIE GLAUDE JR: Let's be -- Go ahead Maria.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR: I think what Harris was trying to say is look “you have to be careful.” What she was trying to unpack from him was the zinger, was that states cannot be responsible for legislating and creating these issues when it comes to race because often times local officials and states themselves have been on the wrong side of history. That's the point she was trying to make and that is hard to argue. It is the reason why we have the Voting Rights Act, the reason why we had to have Brown v. The Board of Education. She unpacked it beautifully and people are trying to say it had to do with busing, it had nothing to do with busing
ROTHMAN: We are now talking about busing.
KUMAR: It has everything to do with who is legislating. Well…
ROTHMAN: We are now talking about the legacy of busing which accelerated geographic sorting and disenfranchised African-American students.
GLAUDE: You constantly do this --
ROTHMAN: I do explain myself. I have a bit that of doing that.
GLAUDE: The reason why busing accelerated is because white communities did not black kids to come to their schools. No, no, no.
ROTHMAN: You are not giving proper play to the African-Americans who also rejected the policy.
GLUADE: Of course they rejected the policy. Because they wanted their schools to be better resourced and didn't want their kids going into dens of hatred. Look at Boston, when you look at what happened at Pontiac. When you look at riots by white communities because black kids are trying to come to their schools, let's be clear, busing had to be used as an option because it was 20 years after Brown v. Board.
ROTHMAN: It was disastrous failure. African-American students didn't have access to their own schools.
GLAUDE: We both can agree busing failed, but we need to understand why it failed
ROTHMAN: Because you are telling the parents that they no longer have control of their own education of their students. If you want to tell parents they shouldn't have --
GLAUDE: If you want to tell white parents, if you want to tell white communities and white parents that you can hoard the resources of a good education if you want to -- then you need to take the hits.
ROTHMAN: It accelerated these trends. And now Kamala Harris came out and said I support that.
KUMAR: That's not what she was saying.
JANSING: Hold on. It is an important and critical conversation. Having said that, in the context of what we are looking at today, which is numbers that are moving, right in Kamala Harris's favor -- we are going to get more money reports although she reported she did very well in the first 24 hours, are these conversations that impact that that are important to the political side of that? Or as some people have suggested, a lot of conversation that happened on that stage was a left conversation that will hurt --
GLAUDE: No. I don't -- I understand the because-- I think this is the issue. To be honest with you, love Noah. Democrats shouldn't worry about Noah. We shouldn't care about what he thinks. What we need to do is understand how we can we rebuild what was called the Obama Coalition and expand the electorate. We are not going to do that by trying to appeal to Reagan Democrats that we lost so long ago. What we need to do is put forward bold, courageous vision for country moving forward and call out not just simply the loud racists but those who have been complicit in maintaining systems of inequality by offering these sorts of arguments
ROTHMAN: This is not a hermetically sealed conversation. Centrists voters who you need in November are listening. If you tell them you have to sacrifice your child's education now or else you are racist
GLAUDE: Sacrifice your child’s education
JANSING: We are out of time. Noah, Theresa, thank you all for a great and provocative conversation.