Via the Busters. Obama’s too shrewd to get down in the mud, no matter how hard Lauer tries to drag him in, but listen closely to his answer. I do love the insertion of “actually” as a qualifier, as it betrays the sense that believing Republicans would disapprove of racial attacks on a minority candidate is somehow surprising or mildly taboo.

Which, to Matt Lauer, I’m sure it is.

Needless to say, there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Obama doesn’t need to accuse the GOP of playing racial politics because Matt Lauer’s going to do it for him. Billy Jeff got a taste of that when his innocuous “fairy tale” comment was demagogued from here to eternity by Obama’s supporters, but wait until the general. You ain’t see nothing yet. Peggy Noonan:

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it’s fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented–“He’s too young, he’s never run anything, he’s not fully baked”–the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.

Indeed, but that’s only half of it. Skim this piece from the Journal on the racial and gender nuance of the Democrats’ white male heartland base. Guess who’ll be blamed if this comes to pass: “There are going to be a lot of people crossing over to the Republicans because he’s black.”

Exit question: How do you suppose Mrs. Obama would have handled Lauer’s question?