Coming Attractions

At the risk of ascribing motivations to Orlando Patterson that he may not actually harbor, I think his much-blogged-about op-ed in today's Times - in which he charges the Clinton campaign with injecting subliminal racist messages into its "red phone" ad - looks like an attempt to write talking points that the Obama camp might employ when it comes time to respond to the barrage of foreign policy attacks their candidate will undoubtedly face from John McCain this fall. I don't think it represents a particularly effective set of talking points: The long-running liberal complaint - sometimes justified, often not - that conservative arguments on crime and welfare were just code for racism didn't win the Democratic Party many victories at the polls, and Patterson's attempt to apply this template to the national security debate feels like awfully weak stuff. But if Obama finds himself on the defensive on foreign policy this fall, I wouldn't be surprised to see his surrogates pick up where Patterson's op-ed leaves off, and try to label certain kinds of security-related attacks as racist, and therefore out-of-bounds.