Pat Buchanan

It's bending the rules perhaps, but tactically brilliant, assuming they win. And, according to The New York Times, by the Friday before the Florida primary, some 400,000 Floridian Democrats had already voted.

Bill and Hillary are being accused of the politics of divisiveness and playing the race card. But while the former president may have behaved in a most unpresidential way, he is doing for his wife nothing Bobby Kennedy -- "Ruthless Robert," as he was then known -- would not and did not do for his brother and Old Joe Kennedy, who is said to have bought the West Virginia primary, did not do for his son.

Feb. 5 seems certain to be do-or-die day for Barack Obama. As of this writing, he has more votes than Hillary and more delegates, but has been made to pay a huge price for his success.

He has been converted by the Clintons, their surrogates and a media that the Clintons have played like a Stradivarius from the Barack who carried white Iowa into The Black Candidate.

There is nothing the Clintons and their surrogates have said that is overtly racist. From raising the drug issue, to calling Barack's rendition of his record on Iraq a "fairy tale," to contending that, while Dr. Martin Luther King was an inspirational leader, LBJ got the job done, to saying South Carolinians will vote on gender and race, to raising the Jesse Jackson comparison, all the points the Clintons have made are valid.

It is the media's obsession with race that has done the job for the Clintons in marginalizing Obama and given him the high hurdles he faces on Feb. 5.

The problem for Barack is this: If, on Super Tuesday, he wins again the same 78 percent of the black vote he won in South Carolina, while losing the 76 percent of the white vole he lost, and loses that two-thirds of the Hispanic vote he lost in Nevada, he could be wiped out.

Indeed, polls show his Hispanic vote shrinking further and faster than his white vote, his "Yes, we can" ("Si, se puede") refrains notwithstanding.

January raises a long-term question. If an African-American with as great a cross-racial appeal as Obama had in Iowa can be so easily ghettoized in three weeks to where whites and Hispanics, the fastest growing minority in America, recoil, when if ever can a black American be nominated or elected president?

Is Bill Clinton not only "our first black president," but our last?

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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