There is something off-putting about President Obama’s having announced in a video that his reelection campaign was launching a movement called “African-Americans for Obama.” The unease is not over an appeal to a particular ethnic group, which is a hallmark of American political campaigns.

What is disconcerting is that in this case it was not a group of supporters who announced the effort but rather the president himself. And the pitch is not limited to the claim that as president Mr. Obama has done much for a community that has special needs. In context, the unmistakable message is “Vote for me because I look like you.”

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Thus, while speaking on the video about what he said were his accomplishments for all Americans, he talked about the great sacrifices many had made to be able “to cast a ballot” and then went on to note that “Their efforts made it possible for somebody like me to be here today.” He went on to urge African-Americans to “keep making history.” And there were several cuts to images of African-American life and culture.

Though it was all carefully nuanced, it is difficult to recall the last time a political message by a sitting president was so palpably racial. And this from the man who told us he aspired to be the “post-racial president.”

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