When a department official resigned in protest and went to the Civil Rights Commission to accuse officials at Justice of ordering staff attorneys not to pursue such cases, that explosive charge, too, was ignored by Justice.
Came then the NAACP smear that the tea party was harboring racists, which Joe Biden explicitly rejected on national television on Sunday, before the Monday firestorm over Sherrod.
Now, whatever one's views on each of these episodes in which race played a role, white Americans are being forced to address them. And, surely, the White House understands this is bad news for Obama and the Democratic Party.
For though the black community remains solidly behind Obama and the white majority is shrinking toward minority status by 2042 or 2050, depending on which Census survey one uses, whites in America still outnumber blacks five to one. And if forced constantly to come down on one side or the other of a racial divide, most folks will wind up with their own.
In past elections, Democrats have raised race -- allegations that black churches were being torched in the South, that George W. Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill meant he was coldly indifferent to the dragging death of a handicapped black man -- to solidify and energize the minority vote. And, today, that vote remains solid behind Obama,
Where the erosion is taking place is in white America, among working- and middle-class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries but took a chance with Obama in the fall. Now, every time some new incident erupts, these folks are being tarred.
Opposition to affirmative action is racist. Supporting the tea party gives aid and comfort to racists. Opposing health care puts you in league with folks who used racial slurs on Rep. John Lewis. To raise the issue of the New Black Panther Party is to play the race card.
One understand the bitterness of tea party folks who carry signs that read: "What difference does it make what this placard says. You'll call it racist anyway."
As the National Journal's Ron Brownstein has been reporting, white America is increasingly alienated and distrustful of all our major economic and political power centers -- the banks, big corporations, the government.
And, for the first time in our lifetimes, outside the South, white racial consciousness has visibly begun to rise.