Peggy Noonan thinks so. The reason? His race:
Mr. Obama will not be easy for Republicans to attack. He will be hard to get at, hard to address. There are many reasons, but a primary one is that the fact of his race will freeze them. No one, no candidate, no party, no heavy-breathing consultant, will want to cross any line--lines that have never been drawn, that are sure to be shifting and not always visible--in approaching the first major-party African-American nominee for president of the United States.
He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy--or professionally desirable--to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they've learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you. . . . [T]he race won't go low.
I think Noonan's right that Obama would be a tougher out than Clinton for the GOP. But the idea that his race insulates him from GOP attacks seems preposterous. First, the South Carolina example is irrelevant. Yes, the Clintons' "southern strategy" backfired there. But one of the major reasons it backfired is because it enraged black South Carolinians--who turned out in record numbers and wound up accounting for more than half of Democratic Primary voters. Republicans, of course, won't have to worry about black voters being a majority in any contest come November--hence the threat of a backlash doesn't seem quite so threatening.
And, as for these lines that the GOP won't want to cross, what lines are those? I don't know, I think we've already witnessed plenty of racially-loaded attacks on Obama from conservative quarters. Whether it was the bullshit Washington Times/Fox News story about his education in a madrassa or the column by Richard Cohen (not necessarily a right-winger, I know, but someone who occasionally plays one on the op-ed page) that tendentiously tried to tie Obama to Louis Farrakhan, I haven't seen conservatives toeing any racial line. Just do a Google search on Jeremiah Wright, who's already being afforded such prominence in right-wing circles that you'd think he wasn't Obama's pastor but was his runningmate.
But, sure, the race won't go low, Noonan tells us. I just hope the rest of her conservative colleagues--especially those colleagues on the WSJ op-ed page--get the message.