John J. Pitney, Jr., Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California and one of my favorite political commentators writes:
On Friday, Senator Obama warned a cheering audience about the Republicans. “They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”
A few months ago, historian Sean Wilentz dubbed this tactic the “race-baiter card.” Smear your opponents as racists, and if there’s no evidence for the claim, accuse them of using “coded language.” There is no authoritative racial codebook, so the charge is easy to lodge. The campaign need not make such accusations directly, since sympathetic writers will do so.
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