"Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it," Maureen Dowd wrote in The New York Times last week. Since then, the debates over whether some of the president's fiercest critics are racially motivated only intensified. Tuesday night, former president Jimmy Carter weighed in. "An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," he said. Some columnists are worried he's right.

  • Black Members of Congress Are Fed Up after Rep. Joe Wilson called the president a liar during a joint session of Congress, Maureen Dowd writes. To them, it's been "a long, hot summer of sulfurous attitudes toward the first black president." Rep. James Clyburn, the highest ranking black member of Congress, told Dowd that he wanted to send a message that Wilson's behavior is "not acceptable and just cannot be tolerated is in America's classroom, as I call Congress."
  • The Far Right Is Fanning White Fears of black power to destroy Obama, Andrew Sullivan says at The Atlantic. "Do they understand how irresonsible [sic] this is?" he asks. "How recklessly dangerous to a society's cohesion and calm? Or is that what they need and thrive on?" Sullivan is deeply concerned.
  • 'The Post-Racial Honeymoon Is Over,' writes Paul Waldman at The American Prospect: "Let's be absolutely clear -- many people who dislike the president or his agenda are perfectly comfortable with his race [...] But it's becoming clear that the presence of a black man in the Oval Office, combined with the increasingly diverse makeup of the American public -- most particularly the growing number of Latinos -- is causing some to not only see terrible threats in things they cared very little about a year ago. It's also causing them to cast aside any pretense of commitment to the basic legitimacy of the American system as it exists today.
  • Who Will Speak Out Against Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting? Rick Ungar asks at TrueSlant. He says Limbaugh's verbal attacks on the president have become a "dangerous exercise" in free speech. He is particularly worried about Limbaugh's treatment of an incident yesterday in which black students appear to beat up a white student on a school bus. "In Obama's America," Rush said, "the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering." He asks Bill Bennett, George Will, Joe Scarborough, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and other conservatives whom he says, "have the best interest of the country at heart," to speak out against the radio host. Because, when people are, "emboldened to the point of attacking the President of the United States for being a black man, we really are in very serious trouble."

Some columnists say liberals are simply hyperventilating. There are plenty of legitimate reasons, they argue, to oppose Obama's presidency.
  • Obama's Supporters Know There's No Racism Here, writes James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal. "Obama supporters taking refuge in the charge of racism don't even necessarily believe it themselves. They are doing so out of a combination of desperation, cynicism and habit. Here is a prediction: It's not going to work. The public will not support ObamaCare, and Congress will not enact it, because of white guilt."
  • Apparently, Conservatives Have Never Opposed a President Before, David Harsanyi writes in the Denver Post. "None of this has anything to do with the left's paranoid belief that America is an inherently racist nation," he says sarcastically. "It's just that if you oppose more government dependency and expansion, you might as well be a Confederate infantryman. No, it doesn't matter what you say, because we know what you really mean."