Is it 3 a.m. at Klan Headquarters?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 2:50 PM EDT

Orlando Patterson argues in today's New York Times that there's a racial subtext to Clinton's 3 a.m. ad. I didn't see it before and I'm not so sure I do now. But I don't dismiss Patterson—one of my intellectual guide stars—lightly.

More after the jump...

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Andrew Sullivan, for one, is persuaded that the ad is subliminally aimed at Latina and white women and that they fear black men in the night. But I didn't see Willie Horton in that ad, or, not until Patterson connected what he sees as the dots:

"Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous—and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within."

Patterson is not a racial hysteric, far from it, though it's true to say that (my chum) Andrew loathes the Clintons with a highly literate passion; are they overreacting? Clinton still hasn't regained my trust after her and Bubba's race-baiting leading up to and including South Carolina, so I'm a lot more open to this interpretation than I would have otherwise been. More, Patterson argues that, before 3 a.m., people who voted for Obama, after the ad, they voted for Clinton. The causal connection seems a little attenuated, but it's worth wondering; is Clinton still playing the race card against Obama? Against America?

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