Look: the racial politics of all this was bound to happen at some point. We should not be surprised by the likes of Mickey Kaus or Sean Hannity or Geraldine Ferraro fanning racial resentment and fear. Since it is part of everyone’s emotional make-up in America, we were never going to get past these issues without going through them. And as we go through them, we shouldn’t engage in utopian notions that we could ever have a campaign in which these things would not at some point dominate. Better now than in October.
What matters now is how Obama gets through them. I fear a spasm of constantly ratcheting squalls of racial insecurity and loathing, which drags everyone down to the level on which the Clintons operate and where they feel most at home. Obama therefore has a brutal job to do. But he has so far shown the grace to pull it off. Patience, restraint, hope: that’s all we have to go on right now. But those three things can still win the presidency, if harnessed carefully enough.