The issue that the Obama campaign has raised, and is raising, is not race but racism--charging, on the basis of flimsy and sometimes ludicrous assertions, not unlike Patterson's in The New York Times, that the Clinton campaign is making subtle and not-so-subtle racist appeals.
Introducing the charge of racism in this campaign is a dangerous tactic--but it certainly suits the interest of Senator Obama. Nothing could be calculated to offend black voters more than the idea that one campaign is appealing to white racism. And nothing, perhaps, is more likely to offend young liberal voters, especially in college and university towns. That is precisely what the Obama campaign has been doing, tentatively since before the primaries began, and with a vengeance since Clinton's surprising win in New Hampshire. It has helped to build and then reinforce its two main pillars of support.