Since you asked, here's goes:
Obama's ideology, insofar as he has articulated it, seems to be a familiar, mainstream liberalism, heavy on communitarianism. High-minded and process-oriented, in the Mugwump tradition that runs from Adlai Stevenson to Bill Bradley, it is pitched less to the Democratic Party's working-class base than to upscale professionals.
Here, Greenberg makes an assumption that Obama's actual message, "high-minded and process-oriented," is not resonating with lower-class folks but only with "upscale professionals." What is he saying here? That poor people aren't smart enough to look past their own interests to "high-minded and process-oriented" ideas? On the contrary, insurgents like Theodore Roosevelt, Robert La Follette, Henry Wallace, and even Ross Perot and John Anderson have proved this argument wrong. Plenty of poor people voted for these guys, some of them in higher percentages than for other candidates. There's an ugly classist assumption in this passage.
But beyond his classism, Greenberg uses this dubious argument in his next paragraph to make a far more sinister argument: that Obama's brilliant mind and fabulous rhetorical skill have little or nothing to do with his success. For Greenberg, Obama's success was preordained when he walked into the room and people saw the color of his skin:
The Obama phenomenon, then, stems not from what he has done but who he is. As the social critic John McWhorter has written, "What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land." He is the great white hope.
Not from what he has done? Give me a break. Plenty of black people have been in a similar situation to Obama's and have been given the same opportunities. Harold Ford was the keynote speaker at a Democratic convention, too, but you don't see him running for President. Carol Moseley-Braun was elected to the Senate, too, but you don't see her racking up huge margins in Presidential primaries. Obama's skill and brilliance are everything to his campaign; to suggest otherwise, to reverse the Bradley effect as Greenberg does and claim that Obama succeeds only because white people want to see him as a panacea for past racism, is to deny him all agency, and in fact to convert his personal agency to a consequence of his race. I find it highly offensive.
Here's another one from Greenberg:
This background may be what some people (mainly blacks) have meant when they asked the regrettable question of whether Obama is "black enough" to earn their votes. But Obama has always been black enough for his elite white enthusiasts...
So he correctly denigrates the question of Obama's "blackness" as a racist and "regrettable" inquiry, and then proceeds to make use of it in the very next sentence as an acceptable form of inquiry? Again, he is reducing Obama's groundbreaking campaign to a simple matter of race. It's as if Jesse Jackson walked into the room, dropped his afro and his strident rhetoric, and the crowd went wild. You see what I'm getting at? Obama isn't Jesse Jackson or Generic Black Man or anyone else. He's a distinct individual with unique characteristics that make him uniquely fitted in some people's minds to be President right now.
Now to KC's post, which I actually had less of a problem with than I did with Greenberg's (and which I found much more informative as well). My major issues with KC are 1) that he failed to denounce the latent racism evident in Greenberg's post, and 2) his highly questionable comment on the Jena 6. I mentioned this in the original post, but I'll elaborate here by quoting my comment from the Cliopatria thread:
What exactly are you saying about the Jena 6? That extenuating circumstances change the underlying fact that the victims of a racial hate crime are being prosecuted for fighting back, while the perpetrators of that crime have gotten off scot-free? What is being done in Jena is a travesty against justice, and Obama absolutely should have spoken out against it. Incredibly enough, the only candidate in the race who did so was the white guy, John Edwards. He shamed both Obama and Clinton for their silence.
I'll stand by that. Also in that comment, I criticized KC for his description of the Clintons as hyperpartisan, but that's a side issue.
Finally, re: your question on whether black people think Obama's race is important: of course they do, and of course it's important. But it's not the reason he's winning, though it could be the reason he's losing. Obama's winning because of his own unique strengths, and minority racial identity in this country remains a net negative, no matter what fantastical notions Greenberg may hold about it. Again, it's not Generic Black Man who won Iowa, it's Barack Hussein Obama, and everything he is and everything he does. I wish we could talk a little more about that, and a little less about Generic Black Man, who is not running in this or any election.