You know a side is on the run rhetorically when it deals the race card. The race card is divisive, disingenuous and outright dangerous, but its great virtue is that it can slow down the other side’s momentum, and even stop it altogether.

So, in a way, those of us who believe President Obama’s health care plans are misguided and hazardous to our national well being can take some comfort in the fact that the President’s supporters are so desperate that they are now crying “racism” in order to stop opposition.

Paul Krugman today in the New York Times writes that the motivation of those turning out to town halls across the nation is “racial anxiety.” And yesterday, in the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott wrote that a poster depicting Mr. Obama as the Joker in Batman movies, with the word “socialism” running underneath, “is ultimately a racially charged image.”

Both arguments were tortuous in the extreme, as they had to be, but were made nonetheless because they raise a sign that says, “Stop! Criticizing the President is racist.”

No, it isn’t. It was a necessary step for a black person to be elected president, one in which all Americans can exult. But we have a black President now, and it is our responsibility to criticize him when we must. There is nothing racist about saying that we should not hand one-sixth of our economy to government control.