Is Obama hearing footsteps?

So much, at least, for all that stuff about a post-racial candidacy:

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him.

How does one “highlight” the fact that Obama is black when he’s been campaigning for the past eighteen months as a black man? Is there possibly a sector of the American population who think that Obama is white? (Other than maybe his white relatives?)

He sounds like a candidate who is jumpy about something out there that he knows could come crashing through the window like a lawn chair in a ferocious thunderstorm.

John Pitney takes the more mundane view of this as a tactic:

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.

This also sounds a bit like a return to the interview of the Obamas back in February of last year when Michelle said that “as a black man Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”

That got me wondering about how many men, black or white, have gotten shot at gas stations in recent years. Maybe that’s something that happens in Chicago a lot. I don’t know.

But why go in this direction now? Could be just what Pitney says it is, but I’ll stick with my theory that Obama has left a big “mistake” or “mistakes” out there that he’s worried about, and he’s going to shake the race stick to see if that can scare any would-be revelations off.

That might work for something on the milder side, but for the “holy grail” YouTube? I don’t think so.

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