Juan Williams: Left plays into Trump’s hands on Biden and race

“OK, boomer.”

I can hear that dismissive remark coming from young people on the left as I express disbelief at their constant criticism of Joe Biden over his record on crime.

Did they miss the Trump administration’s use of pepper balls and smoke bombs against peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square?

{mosads}Did they miss President Trump’s willingness to use the military to intimidate people demonstrating against police brutality — an effort condemned by former secretary of Defense James Mattis as a misuse of the military “to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

Did they miss Trump’s longstanding contempt for protests against police brutality, including demanding NFL players be fired – “get that son of a bitch off the field” — for calling attention to black people being abused by cops?

An ABC/Ipsos poll released Friday found that 66 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the horrific death of George Floyd, a black man who died of asphyxiation while a policeman pressed a knee on his neck. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds two-thirds of Americans say Trump has increased racial tensions in the U.S.

The November election will be a binary choice — Biden or Trump.

Yet the far left looks back almost 30 years to the 1994 crime bill as if it is a reason to hesitate supporting Biden in 2020.

Do they prefer Trump?

The same insane political myopia extends to harsh attacks on highly qualified candidates, including black women, who want to be Biden’s vice president.

Both Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) have backgrounds in law enforcement. Demings made history as Orlando’s first female chief of police. Harris was California’s attorney general.

Accomplished black women with law-and-order credentials have the potential to help the Biden ticket with moderate suburban voters. They could also stir voter turnout in the black community.

That is true even at a time of heightened concern over police brutality.

The Floyd case has already created a problem for Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) chances of being put on the ticket. Critics point out that as chief prosecutor in one Minnesota county she “declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police,” according to the Washington Post.

The criticism of Demings and Harris is even more personal. The charge is that as black leaders the two women failed to counter the racism impacting black people caught in the criminal justice system.

Harvard University Professor Cornel West, an African American, legitimized this way of thinking in a CNN interview last week:

“We’ve tried black faces in high places,” West said. “They [centrist Democrats], all they want to do is show more black faces, show more black faces. But..the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement emerged under a black president, black attorney general, and black Homeland Security [Secretary] and they couldn’t deliver.”

Now keep in mind that West supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during this year’s Democratic primary.

And let the politically astute note that Sanders never gained traction with most black voters. Biden formally clinched the nomination on Friday, an outcome that had looked inevitable for some time.

Despite that overwhelming support from black voters, there are activists who continue to harp on Biden’s role in passage of a crime bill that put more police on the streets and increased the use of mandatory minimum sentences by judges.

It also had the unforeseen consequence of putting more black people in jail.

But remember, it is also true that the bill drove down crime rates in black neighborhoods.

That is why the crime bill was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus as well as nearly all of the nation’s black mayors and signed by a Democrat in the White House, President Clinton.

{mossecondads}That is why Factcheck.org noted last year that a group of black church leaders supported the bill back then by explaining that while they did not agree with every provision, “we do believe and emphatically support the bill’s goal to save our communities, and most importantly, our children.”

Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice, who was a domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House in 1994, told The Atlantic last year that the bill was not controversial: “Crime between 1960 and 1990 tripled…the level of social disruption and panic that caused is hard to explain now, because since then the crime rate has been dropping.”

It is a fact that between 1994 and 2017, the nation’s violent crime rate did fall 46 percent.

But in the current, politically charged focus on ending police brutality, the context is forgotten.

This is a sad replay of 2016, when Trump’s campaign got help from left-wingers critical of Hillary Clinton for her husband’s support of the crime bill.

Mrs. Clinton was famously asked if her “heart” had changed on race issues.

Clinton responded that apologies are less important that structural change.

“I believe you change laws [and] you change allocation of resources,” she said. “You are not going to change every heart.”

To defeat Trump, Democrats have to confront the absurdity of looking back into the past to attack Biden, Harris, Klobuchar and Demings, instead of looking forward to a better future on race.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2020 Democratic primary 2020 presidential election Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Criminal justice Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Mattis Joe Biden Race race relations Val Demings

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