As we noted last week, “shiny object” stories are pushed by the Obama team and/or the media (yes, quite a lot of overlap there) to try to distract voters from the president’s record and more substantive issues. Cutting a classmate’s hair in high school is the quintessential “shiny object story” — meaningless, virulently anti-Romney, and revealing of the atrocious double standard in coverage of the candidates.

What story takes the cake this week? It is not Bain, and those who think it is don’t really grasp what “shiny object” stories are all about. Romney’s background is relevant, unlike the hair-cutting of 50 years ago. And it is a factor relevant to voters. Simply because it blew up in Obama’s face, was distorted and created havoc for Democrats doesn’t make it a ”shiny object” — although schadenfreude, certainly.

So the “shiny object” winner of the week is a good old stand-by: race. Here’s a prime example from the Atlantic: “Why did two in five Democratic voters in Kentucky and Arkansas vote against President Obama in their states’ primaries on Tuesday? Why did roughly the same portion of West Virginia Democrats do the same two weeks ago? Different theories have been floated. Maybe it was Obamacare? Maybe it was Obama’s environmental policies? After all, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin ran an ad in 2010 when he literally shot the bill. Maybe it has something to do with gay rights? These states are very culturally conservative. Maybe those factors played a role, but it’s hard to ignore one: race.”

It’s hard for the press to ignore since it is the all-purpose explanation for Obama’s failing, but it’s unprovable, not to mention vile. Is any discontent with Obama racism? If social conservatives lash out because of his fake shift on marriage, is this just a “cover” for racism?

Salon feigns fairness by saying the primary results were not exclusively about racism, but nevertheless it — along with homophobia — sure was key:

Perhaps Obama’s race is one of several markers (along with his name, his background, the never-ending Muslim rumors and his status as the “liberal” candidate in 2008) that low-income white rural voters use to associate him with a national Democratic Party that they believe has been overrun by affluent liberals, feminists, minorities, secularists and gays — people and groups whose interests are being serviced at the expense of their own.

Indeed, the entire Rev. Wright non-ad campaign hyped by the New York Times, which “broke” the non-story, and legions of liberal bloggers who kept it alive tried to suggest that the right is going to dredge up Wright, which is per se racism.

By labeling opposition to Obama racism or efforts to discuss his experiences and influences as racist fishing expeditions, Obama defenders cast the president’s critics as racists, about the most heinous accusation you can hurl in American politics.

If things proceed in the direction they are heading (a limping economy, an inept Obama campaign, strong polling for Romney), brace yourself for an avalanche of race cards. It’s the cheapest, slimiest way to vilify Obama’s opponents, cow them into silence and take up the political oxygen. Anything to hold at bay a serious discussion of the president’s record.