It's Not Lost But....
Having seen how astoundingly awful John McCain is - both as a campaigner and a candidate - I am of the view that this is Sen. Obama's election to lose, despite the concern in some quarters surrounding the day to day variations in polls which I don't pay much attention to. Having said that, using race as a weapon in the general election is more likely than not a strategy for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (it's not that I didn't point this out during the primary).
The issue is simple. The GOP has a history of using "dogwhistle politics" against Democrats and there's no reason to think those tactics won't be in play in this election - against Sen. Obama or other Democrats. However, by its very definition, a "dogwhistle" is only significant to those who are tuned to understanding the code behind it. What that means is when liberals try to generate an uproar over something that most people don't consider racist, it invites predictable backlash.
I see some people automatically attach racial context to charges of Obama being "presumptuous", "inexperienced", and so forth. It is certainly possible that these are racial dogwhistles to some Republicans. But I also know that many people use these same words without any notion of racism or "dogwhistles" attached to it. So, when an uproar is created over these words, the GOP ends up benefiting because even those who are not racist get put off by the notion that they are somehow considered racist by liberals for thinking along these lines. I could say a lot more on this but Bob Somerby already has - his piece is an absolute must-read for all liberals. Digby has a response that is also worth reading. (For an additional trip down memory lane, see Big Tent Democrat).
Now, I can understand people genuinely calling out the GOP for legitimate issues pertaining to the latter's exploitation of racial dogwhistles. What I cannot understand is a desire by some to see racial connotations in every little thing. This appalled me during the primary and I'm not going to sit around and be quiet about this now because doing so will only help McCain and the GOP and hurt Sen. Obama's campaign (as I said before). The latest idiocy in this context is from Timothy Noah in Slate. Amy Chozick was clearly a crackpot for writing what she did, but it took a whole new level of crackpottery to write Noah's awful response.
P.S. Now for some comic relief. Keith Olbermann wrote a diary at Daily Kos (predictably on the Recommended list) establishing his moral high ground over Dana Milbank of the WaPo. Milbank is hardly known for his objective journalism and I could care less if he is on anyone's show, but for Olbermann to write what he did after his non-stop lying and character assassination of Sen. Clinton during the primary is completely hilarious.