What happened
Pastors in many churches focused their Easter sermons on the need to rise above racism and bigotry days after Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s address on race, which was prompted by criticism of his former pastor’s incendiary sermons. (The New York Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
“Obama is staking his campaign” on the idea that “the dreams and interests of hard-pressed Americans are more important than matters of race,” said George Packer in The New Yorker. “Democrats have been trying to make that argument for a long time, while Republicans have been winning elections.” But “Obama is a black candidate who can tell Americans of all races to move beyond race. As such, he is uniquely positioned to put an end to this era,” but he’s also “uniquely vulnerable to becoming its latest victim.”

Obama has blown his claim to being the perfect “post-racial candidate,” said Mark Steyn in the Orange County Register. He described the racism beating within his own grandmother’s breast, and called her “a typical white person.” Yet he made excuses for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “hateful and damaging lunacies,” including the one about how the government invented AIDS to kill black people. If Obama really wanted to move beyond race, he would denounced Wright as “a fraud, a crock, a mountebank” long ago.

Don’t blame Obama if the campaign has degenerated into a racial slugfest, said Janet Daley in the London Telegraph. He campaigned for months by asking American to “take him for what he was as an individual—a talented, eloquent politician who would embody ‘the change’ that the nation needed,” without “mentioning the ‘r’ word.” America wouldn’t let him do that, and his speech was an “admission of defeat.” He started out as a candidate who happened to be black. “Now he is a black man running for president.”