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The race for the Democratic nomination changed last night. We think it was the moment when, during a spat between Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and Eric Swalwell and whomever else -- whichever boys were involved, they were very shrill last evening, just shrill, all the boys last night except Pete Buttigieg were shrill, should smile more, also those tears are obviously fake -- Kamala Harris's voice sliced through the yapping and said, "Hey guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a FOOD FIGHT, they want to know how we're going to put FOOD on their TABLE!" And from that moment on, she owned the room. It happened to come early in the debate, which means she was signing closing papers on the debate by about 9:30 PM Eastern.

We like Kamala Harris. It's not a secret that those of us who day in and day out cover the trials, tribulations and criminal cover-ups of the Trump Justice Department and the fight to hold the Trump administration accountable ... we like her. We've liked her since the day a stuttering Jeff Sessions pleaded with the senator from California to please stop interrogating him so quickly, because her fast talkin' questions were makin' him NERVOUS. And ever since she entered the Democratic primary, we've had a gut feeling something like last night's performance was going to happen, that there would be a break-out moment on the debate stage where Harris introduced herself to America by saying, "Look what I just did to all these people. Next time I'll do it to Trump."


There were moments like that throughout the night. At one point, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bennet were bickering about something or other, and Harris managed to slice through not with a zinger, but with an anecdote, which is not usually how people "slice through," but she did it, and the boys shut up and listened. A few moments later, Harris, asked what she would do on day one about the evil crisis Donald Trump has created on the border, said this:

I will [...] immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum, I will RELEASE children from cages, I will get rid of the private detention centers, and I will ENSURE that this microphone that the president of the United States holds in her hand is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country!

It was approximately when she said "her hand" that the crowd started cheering.

Kamala Harris's breakout moments from the first Democratic debate www.youtube.com

But the moment that led off every post-debate pundit session and went viral on Twitter was Harris's exchange with Joe Biden on race, addressing his earlier comments about how he used to like to pal around with segregationists in the name of a comity and compromise that no longer exists in the America of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. In that instance, she also had to cut in, telling the moderators that hello, she is the only black woman on that stage, "I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK ON THE ISSUE OF RACE." She addressed Biden's nostalgic comments about the segregationist senators, but also upped the ante and called Biden out for his long ago opposition to busing, explaining that "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me."

Rachel Maddow had started this segment off by saying Kamala Harris could have 30 seconds to respond. Suffice it to say nobody cut her off as 30 seconds came and vanished in the rear view, because holy shit, we are witnessing a MURDER, and you don't call 30 second time limits on MURDERRRRRRRRRR, do you?

Just watch it.

Kamala Harris Confronts Joe Biden In Tense Exchange On Race Relations | NBC News www.youtube.com

And he was SHAMED.

Of course, his shame only lasted for a minute, and he proceeded to gaffe through a defense of his past positions, trying to fob off responsibility for opposition to busing on "local control," which pretty much everybody with any knowledge of the Civil Rights movement knows was a dogwhistle used to promote segregationist policies. Harris used Biden's wrong answer to make the point that there are times in America "when states fail," when the federal government has to step in to set things right. You know, like the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, and the (as yet unpassed) Equal Rights Amendment and Equality Act, to name several. Harris's voice soared as the audience cheered her on.

Her campaign followed up almost immediately with this tweet:

And that tweet led every news cast thereafter.

We don't believe Joe Biden is a racist in his heart. (He just happened to do some racist actions, which are kind of the tell.) And in fact, we like him quite a lot. But he's going to have to do better on this, otherwise the fire Kamala Harris started is only going to grow.

As we said, the debate went like that. Harris raised her hand when asked if she would abolish her own private healthcare to replace it with Medicare For All, which seemed to surprise some Bernie Sanders fans we saw on the internet, but shouldn't, since she said the same thing in a town hall way back in January. On immigration, she called upon her experience as a prosecutor, because she said she wants undocumented immigrants who are raped to feel free to report without fear of deportation. She also called upon that prosecutorial history when discussing gun violence, noting that she has been far too up close and personal with the mothers of gun violence victims, holding them and hugging them and crying with them, to sit silently and do nothing.

You know, in case you were wondering if "KAMALAGLAMKLSDDFKJ;KCAISACOP! SHE'S a cooooPpPpPpPp! #cop #kamalubacop! #GHAZI!!!11!!11!" came up. And yes, surely in future debates, that issue will come into focus, including the parts of her record that some find questionable, and she'll have to defend that record and talk about what she did right, what she would do differently now given the chance, and what she's learned. She is running for president, and getting called on your past shit is kind of part of the package.

Harris closed forcefully, using a version of a line that's become familiar to those of us who have been following her for a while, saying that she is the one on that stage best positioned to prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump. And after what we had all just witnessed -- we'll see how the polls move after this -- we think the people in that room believed her.


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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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