"Clinton implies but doesn't quite come out and say ... that Obama is black -- and that white people who are not wealthy are irredeemably racist."
But Hillary was saying no such thing. Describing her coalition, she was implying that Obama's coalition -- a George McGovern-Jesse Jackson combine embracing 90 percent of African-Americans, plus liberals, students and cause people -- has less chance of beating McCain than does she and her more Middle American coalition.
Democrats, not liberal Democrats, are the swing votes who decide presidential races. Here Hillary beats Obama three to two or two to one, North and South.
Has she no right to make this argument? Can Brother Robinson explain exactly how Hillary can describe her Ohio-Pennsylvania coalition without using the dread word "white"?
Some of the reaction to the Clintons, whose once-universal support among African-Americans has crashed, is due to the immense stake black Americans have come to invest in the Obama candidacy. But some of this is something else, something more sinister.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are not playing a race card. Rather, the liberal media and some black journalists with sentimental, emotional or ideological investments in Obama are playing the intimidation card.
They are setting limits around what may and may not be said about Obama. They are seeking to censor robust adversarial speech where Barack is concerned, by branding as racists "playing the race card" any who make Barack run the same paces as anyone else.
The Clintons are today victims of a double standard that has long been employed against conservatives.
Even African-Americans critical of Obama are feeling the lash. In Saturday's Washington Post article, "Black Community Is Increasingly Protective of Obama," reporter Darryl Fears writes, "Standing in the path of Obama's campaign has been dangerous" for prominent blacks.
Bill and Hillary have lost luster and sustained damage to their reputations because, in the Democrats' universe, such smears stick. The question for Republicans is whether they will let themselves be intimidated, as they too often are, from using legitimate political weapons to defend what they still have.
It is thus a sign of trouble ahead that John McCain declared the Rev. Wright off limits and berated the North Carolina GOP for bringing him up. Let your adversaries circumscribe the content of your campaign, and you usually end up losing your campaign.