House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had just caved to approving the so-called "humanitarian aid" package after Vice President Mike Pence promised he'd keep her in the loop on the refugee kids (whom she'd only that day described as her lion cubs in need of maternal protection) who die in ICE custody as soon as possible after they take their last breaths.
Or, as the New York Times blandly described it, putting the best possible face on some truly gruesome bipartisan collusion:
Her retreat came after Vice President Mike Pence gave Ms. Pelosi private assurances that the administration would abide by some of the restrictions she had sought. They included a requirement to notify lawmakers within 24 hours after the death of a migrant child in government custody, and a 90-day time limit on children spending time in temporary intake facilities, according to a person familiar with the discussions.The Democrats might have lost their Battle to send toothbrushes and soap to the traumatized imprisoned children at the border, but if they beat Trump next year they'll make damned sure that every non-criminal traumatized adult and child refugee gets a Medicaid card. Freedom might not be a basic human right any more, but health insurance will never die, especially if it's insurance that can't actually be used within the confines of cages or while hiding from a beefed-up border patrol. No place is safe, because the "border" is now defined not only as every state in America, but wherever American corporate interests and client regimes exist. In other words, the U.S.border comprises a major chunk of the planet.
This makes it so easy for Democratic candidates, especially the senators who conveniently didn't have to vote for the latest border aid package, to cynically promise a health insurance card for every undocumented pocket. What migrant in their right mind would risk everything applying for an I.D. card, thereby making it easier for ICE agents to locate them?
This horrible truth was the main switcheroo part of Thursday night's Debate & Switch spectacle in Miami. Nobody on the NBC moderation team and none of the candidates took so much as a swipe at Nancy Pelosi and her right-wing Democratic colleagues, who are grotesquely described as "moderates" in corporate media narratives.
Luckily for Madam Speaker, the fresh hypocrisy was conveniently overshadowed by California Senator Kamala Harris's withering and well-rehearsed attack on front-runner Joe Biden's sordid racist history. Rank opportunist and jailer of black mothers of truant children though she herself may be, Harris was the perfect prosecutorial attack machine, given that she herself had been bused to school as a child in Berkeley.
As is his wont, Biden only made his bad situation worse, stammering querulously that localities like Berkeley - and not the federal government - had the right to set integration policy. This made him sound just like George Wallace and the Southern racist's guide to "state's rights" as a means of keeping the institutional racism and segregation alive.
Although Harris prefaced her attack with the disclaimer that she doesn't think Biden himself is a racist, she couldn't have elicited his deep-seated racist mindset any better than she did.
We'll see how this plays out in the polls, and whether Biden's lead will be affected. If it's not, then there are more silent old white Deplorables out there in the Homeland than those who profess to be in Trump's base. There also might be more conservative older black voters out there who prefer the racist they knew yesterday to the racist they know today.
If anything, Biden could actually benefit from the Trump Effect: compared to the current psychopathic Oval Office occupant, Creepy Uncle Joe doesn't look quite as bad as he otherwise might have. Trump has set the bar conveniently low for him and for all of them. Voters have been effectively desensitized to a relentless and daily regimen of Trumpian shock therapy.
And Thursday night's debate performances from the other contenders always could have been worse. Bernie, for example, could have chimed in and announced that the country is sick and tired of hearing about Joe Biden's damned racism. As it was, he was probably wise to play it safe and stick to his talking points. These talking points were certainly amplified, if not outright plagiarized, by Harris and the other opportunists on the stage.
And in piling on Biden, Harris also obliquely threw the former Deporter-in-Chief, Barack Obama, under the bus. Even Biden indirectly criticized Obama's "Safe Communities" deportation dragnet, which caught up millions of undocumented but otherwise law-abiding people and foisted upon them one-way bus tickets back to hell before the Obama administration finally abandoned the program in the face of myriad court and municipal challenges.
Perhaps more shocking than Harris's attack was "moderate" Mike Bennet of Colorado lambasting Biden, and by extension Obama, for caving to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during 2012 budget negotiations. This was when the Bush tax cuts for the rich were made permanent, while even more austerity (the "Sequester") was imposed on government programs benefiting ordinary people. In a classic example of political bait and switch, Biden bragged that he got the GOP to raise taxes because a small proportion of the tax cuts did in fact expire... a feat for which regular people have been punished ever since.
Thanks to Thursday's debate, there is a slight chance that it will dawn on more people that Trump became president for a very good reason. He instinctively knows that the masses of people are feeling pain and anger, and he acknowledges that pain and anger while co-opting it in service of the extremely wealthy. The corporate Democrats who brag about "getting things done" in the interests of bipartisanship are not your friends. They're also not particularly good at pretending to be your friends.
It was almost a miracle. Obama, more skilled than most in his party at pretending to be your friend, came out of the debates with his carefully marketed reputation suffering some collateral damage. The bloom is coming off the plastic rose. And it's about time.