Something light for a lazy Thursday.

Beginning with a sequence of flashes paired with isolated hands in Berlin, followed immediately by a sequence (above) from what looks like the last Democratic Convention (where Obama made his first major jolt, but where the scene itself bears next-to-no direct connection to Obama having his picture taken), and now all the “pop-pop-pop” and the violently-sensory “flash-flash-flash” seem indistinguishable from explosions.

With those fireworks serving as a (possible Denver) table setting, and just on-the-other-side of the seductive Britney/Paris segment, we arrive at this chronological sequence in which Obama is mingling with the Berlin crowd, a single nervous-looking Secret Service agent fixed off the candidate’s left shoulder…

Follow the link for Zapruder-esque screencaps. In fairness to the left, he’s the only one I’ve seen willing to descend to this particular depth of paranoia. The nutroots party line predictably seems to be settling on the more politically salable paranoid claim that the GOP in its racist frenzy wants voters to think Obama’s a sexual threat to young white women. To believe that could work, you have to believe (as many on the left do) that the mindset of the modern Republican base is indistinguishable from the mindset of 1920s Mississippi or, more charitably, that racial semiotics are so deeply encoded in America’s consciousness that you and I are picking up these signals without even realizing it. In fact, it may go beyond that. Given that no one’s offered any evidence of a strategy within the McCain campaign to play on race (on the contrary), the accusation here may be that McCain’s own ad people unconsciously set out to cast racial insinuations, helpless as they are to resist their own conservative or American impulses when challenged by a black man in a position of power.

That accusation of unconscious racism has been made before but it’s a trip to see it again so soon after the New Yorker cover; we’ve apparently arrived at the point where not only are the conscious intentions of the author irrelevant, but potentially so are the conscious intentions of his audience. If you’re racist regardless of whether you meant to be racist or were taken to be racist — except by the opposition in its eagerness to score points — then “meaning” independent of political utility no longer exists. The punchline is that it’s perfectly obvious what McCain really meant to accomplish with that ad and perfectly obvious what he meant by his choice of symbolism, so much so that Obama himself has used the same reference in a similar context more than once before. Even some of Barry O’s big media supporters can’t bring themselves to dive into the sewer on this one: Time media critic (and admitted Obama fan) James Poniewozik tries a half-hearted “they’re calling him a girl” theory, but then waters it down by properly noting that the touchstones of celebrity lightweights these days — Paris, Britney, Lindsay Lohan — all happen to be female, in which case any implication about Obama being effeminate might have been unavoidable and thus unintended. Does that even matter anymore?

Team McCain’s already issued a statement this morning accusing Obama of having played the race card last night, so the bad-faith pushback from the left should really start hopping now. Stay tuned.

Update: Karl scolds me in the comments for suggesting that there’s anything “light” about the left’s Orwellian tactics here. I quite agree; nothing “light” about assassination or bad-faith accusations of murderous intent either. It was sarcasm.