Rich Lowry

Afterward, an Obama spokesman implausibly insisted the dollar-bills comment was not about race: "What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn't get here after spending decades in Washington." This is rich. George Washington didn't serve in Washington either, given that the capital of the country was first New York and then Philadelphia. His path to the presidency went through Trenton, Valley Forge and Yorktown (granted, quite different than Obama's). As for the other presidents, neither Abraham Lincoln, nor Andrew Jackson, nor U.S. Grant was a Washington time-server prior to winning the White House.

Obama clearly was talking about race. He said much the same thing in Berlin: "I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city." Did he merely mean that he has better-fitting suits and a slimmer frame?

Obama has apparently been spoiling to throw out the race charge. When he won the North Carolina primary, he said McCain would "play on our fears" and "exploit our differences." In June, he said Republicans were going to run against him saying: "He's young and inexperienced, and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

Obama hopes to use the racism card to inhibit all criticism of him, with the presumed cooperation of the press. But there's a much larger downside. Obama's race is a political advantage so long as it is sold in a post-racial context. If his background is a symbol of how we can get beyond the poisoned atmosphere of both racism and the hyperactive, opportunistic charges of racism, it's a boon to his change-and-unity candidacy. That's why Jesse Jackson expressing a desire to perform emergency surgery on Obama was a priceless assist.

Now, Obama could throw it away in a fit of self-destructiveness worthy of ... dare we say it, Britney Spears?

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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