This was always the nasty side of Obama’s implied hope for unity. Obama gave oxygen to the idea that disagreement with him amounted to obstructing his mission to “transcend race.” During the campaign, that meant anyone who got in his way was wittingly or unwittingly abetting racism (just ask Bill Clinton). A writer for Slate insisted journalists must not call attention to the fact that Obama is “skinny.” Such observations fuel racism by highlighting his physical appearance, and that in turn might suddenly alert racist American voters to the fact that Obama is . . . wait for it . . . black.

Now that he’s president, if you question his tax policies, energy plans, or health-care ambitions, you are “hoping he will fail” — and that, with the help of roundabout reasoning, is tantamount to hoping we cannot transcend race.

Loading the deck in such a way is a gift of Obama’s. Time and again, he pre-empts dissent by claiming he’s open-minded, pragmatic, and non-ideological, and therefore if you disagree with him, you must be some sort of zealot.