Gov. David Paterson said Republicans have been using "community organizer" as a racial code word, as they try to highlight the fact that their opponent is a black man without actually calling him a black man.
"There are overtones of potential racial coding in the campaign," Paterson told the Crain's Business Forum, when asked whether racism would hurt Obama's chances to become president.
"The Republican party is too smart to call Barack Obama 'black' . . .But you can take something about his life, which I noticed they did at the Republican convention. A 'community organizer.' They kept saying it, they kept laughing, like what does this mean?"
This was reported on The Daily News' web site today.
Paterson is suggesting, in other words, that "community organizer" (and the laughing that goes along with it) is a kind of substitute phrase for the N-word, a term so fraught with possibilities of being caught and exposed as a racist that it's been, presumably, much suppressed these days, even among fairly die hard anti-black Republicans.
The Governor had the openness of heart to say something obvious already to many, that the Republicans have been injecting race into the campaign in the old Madison Avenue way, slyly and effectively.
Keep this in mind: That the night of the Republican Convention in which Sarah Palin used the term "community organizer," sneering as she did so, Rudy Giuliani also had the platform and used code words of his own.
And New Yorkers know that Giuliani's hostility to persons of darker persuasion is not hidden under a bushel.
All in all the words being tossed out as the first grenades by the Republicans are nothing less than evidence that Karl Rove, player of dirty, nasty, race-laden tricks, has the upper hand in John McCain's campaign.
And John McCain -- the object of every decent Democrats' prefatory remark, asserting McCain's decency and heroism and blah, blah, blah -- is going along with the vileness.
And that, rather than heroism, is rank dishonesty.
[Photo of Paterson is by Duprey of AP.]