‘States’ Rights’: CNN Smears Federalism as Purely a Tool of Racists

In addition to all but agreeing with President Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” nickname, CNN’s exclusively liberal panel thought Thursday was a terrible debate night for Vice President Joe Biden because of a heated exchange he had with Senator Kamala Harris (CA) over federal busing in the south during the civil rights movement. According to the panel, the idea that states had the right to make laws for themselves that differed from one another was a travesty with its roots in racism.

Despite the fact that federalism was something liberals embraced during the age of President Trump, especially regarding climate change regulation and late-term abortion laws, liberal commentator Van Jones decried “states’ rights” as something racists wanted (Click “expand”):

Let me just say as an African-American, why that was just unacceptable. That very argument was the argument that was used that the federal government should leave us, to abandon us to the good graces of racists all across the country. And if the local racists want to abuse us, leave us out, not educate our kids. not let us vote, that's the local decision.So, he just took the heart out of the civil rights movement with that argument. Our plea was that we are one country. The constitution applies to all of us, and we want the federal government to stand with us and against the local racists. And so for him not to understand that -- and here's the other thing. My heart breaks about it at a personal level because all he had to do was say, “you know what? I think I was wrong there.” If he had just said, “you know what, kamala? I think I was wrong then, and I've learned something, and I've learned something from talking to people like you.” It would have been a beautiful moment for him and for the country, and he threw it down the toilet based on egotism and nonsense and it was a heartbreaking moment.

In an interview 18 minutes later with Biden surrogate and Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA), host Anderson Cooper pressed the point that Biden was arguing in support of a racist policy. “[Y]ou called Vice President Biden a statesman. He was a statesman in the sense he was supporting states' rights in busing,” Cooper prefaced. “Is that something you -- I mean is that something he should still be supporting?”

Senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson didn’t let up and grilled Richmond on Biden’s support for a supposed racist form of government, suggesting it was a problem for the Congressional Black Caucus. “Cedric, it just seems like this is going to put the Congressional Black Caucus in a very difficult position where you're having to essentially defend somebody who presently is arguing for states' rights.”

 

 

“I mean, are you worried about members of the CBC -- you're of course one of the leaders of the CBC -- carrying this mantle for Joe Biden if he's continuing to defend states' rights,” she wondered. When Richmond disagreed with the idea that Biden supported states’ rights, she snapped at him: “But he did. He did. I mean, that's exactly what he did do.”

Liberal commentator and former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer Jess McIntosh thought the states’ right question with Biden put a tarnish on an otherwise stellar Democratic debate:

And in a moment where we are so polarized in this country, where your access to rights that should be fundamental, like abortion rights, are based on zip codes and states, when you can get arrested and jailed for a very long time for doing something in one state that is perfectly legal in another, to have Joe Biden make that argument today, it just shows that it's not the forward-looking thing he wanted to do when he started this debate.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, CNN managed to have Harris herself on the program live from the debate spin room. Of course, Cooper had to question her about Biden’s supposed states’ rights support (click “expand”):

COOPER: You know, one of the things one of our panelists, Van Jones, said earlier tonight about that moment was just -- and I don't want to get him wrong. I'm paraphrasing him. But just that in a Democratic primary debate to have one of, you know, if you look at the polls, the leading Democratic candidate defending a states' rights argument when it comes to civil rights and federal busing is just extraordinary.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Yeah, I mean, I have to confess I was surprised.

COOPER: Do you expect him to -- The other option he could have done is just said, you know what, “I was wrong and I'm moved by what you said.” Do you expect him to, you know, kind of get to that place or do you expect him to stick with this states' rights argument? Because this is obviously going to be something that's talked about and it's going to be asked of him.

Every CNN analyst and commentator approached the topic of federalism as a radioactive policy position to support. Meanwhile, it allowed states to form their own laws when it came to things their residents had different opinions on. In reality, it was something blue states benefited from as well.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s DNC Debate Post Analysis
June 27, 2019
11:11:39 p.m. Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: He is -- for those who maybe are not following the debate, he is arguing for states' rights.

[Crosstalk]

VAN JONES: Let me just say as an African-American, why that was just unacceptable. That very argument was the argument that was used that the federal government should leave us, to abandon us to the good graces of racists all across the country. And if the local racists want to abuse us, leave us out, not educate our kids. not let us vote, that's the local decision.

So, he just took the heart out of the civil rights movement with that argument. Our plea was that we are one country. The constitution applies to all of us, and we want the federal government to stand with us and against the local racists. And so for him not to understand that -- and here's the other thing. My heart breaks about it at a personal level because all he had to do was say, “you know what? I think I was wrong there.”

If he had just said, “you know what, kamala? I think I was wrong then, and I've learned something, and I've learned something from talking to people like you.” It would have been a beautiful moment for him and for the country, and he threw it down the toilet based on egotism and nonsense and it was a heartbreaking moment.

(…)

11:29:46 p.m. Eastern

COOPER (to Rep. Cedric Richmond): He certainly looked pained while Kamala Harris was talking. I'm not sure if he looked like he felt her pain. You're the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. That exchange with Senator Harris on busing, you called Vice President Biden a statesman. He was a statesman in the sense he was supporting states' rights in busing. He was against federal busing and supporting that it should be up to the states. Is that something you -- I mean is that something he should still be supporting?

(…)

11:32:48 p.m. Eastern

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Cedric, it just seems like this is going to put the Congressional Black Caucus in a very difficult position where you're having to essentially defend somebody who presently is arguing for states' rights. And these are positions that people like Jim Clyburn. I mean, he marched against these sorts of issues in states like South Carolina, where I'm from, for instance. I mean, are you worried about members of the CBC -- you're of course one of the leaders of the CBC -- carrying this mantle for Joe Biden if he's continuing to defend states' rights?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, look, I don't think he was trying to defend states' rights.

HENDERSON: But he did. He did. I mean, that's exactly what he did do.

RICHMOND: Okay. In your opinion he tried to defend states' rights.

(…)

11:36:45 p.m. Eastern

JESS MCINTOSH: I don't want to say this is a bad night for Democrats, though. I think we saw some really exciting things happen onstage. I think black women are the base of the Democratic Party. They have been looking for a reason to get really excited about Kamala Harris, and she gave it to them tonight.

And in a moment where we are so polarized in this country, where your access to rights that should be fundamental, like abortion rights, are based on zip codes and states, when you can get arrested and jailed for a very long time for doing something in one state that is perfectly legal in another, to have Joe Biden make that argument today, it just shows that it's not the forward-looking thing he wanted to do when he started this debate.

(…)

June 28, 2019
12:13:25 a.m. Eastern

COOPER: You know, one of the things one of our panelists, Van Jones, said earlier tonight about that moment was just -- and I don't want to get him wrong. I'm paraphrasing him. But just that in a Democratic primary debate to have one of, you know, if you look at the polls, the leading Democratic candidate defending a states' rights argument when it comes to civil rights and federal busing is just extraordinary.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Yeah, I mean, I have to confess I was surprised.

COOPER: Do you expect him to -- The other option he could have done is just said, you know what, “I was wrong and I'm moved by what you said.” Do you expect him to, you know, kind of get to that place or do you expect him to stick with this states' rights argument? Because this is obviously going to be something that's talked about and it's going to be asked of him.

(…)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Debates Conspiracy Theories Double Standards Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Cable Television CNN Other CNN Video Cedric Richmond Nia-Malika Henderson Anderson Cooper Joe Biden Kamala Harris

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