This was almost the best day in the existence of those Obama supporters who dream every night about what they can do the next day to tag Mitt Romney as racist.

They almost got what they wanted today, or so they thought, because The Telegraph newspaper in Britain quoted a single anonymous Romney aide who refused to go on the record or be identified who used the term “Anglo-Saxon” in describing the relationship between the U.S. and Britain, and why Romney might do a better job than Obama:

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested   that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the   two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special   relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White   House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

That one anonymous quote from a single Romney aide led to an avalanche of denunciations of Romney as racist (via Memeorandum):

  • A blogger who is a history prof at the University of Rhode Island called Romney a “white supremacist.”
  • Prof. Juan Cole (yes, him) from the University of Michigan denounced Romney’s “Aryan Racial Theory” approach to foreign policy.
  • Roy Edroso, who covers the “right wing” for The Village Voice, declared (brackets in original) “I understand that this is the time of the campaign cycle where you shore up your base [cue "Theme from Deliverance"], but Romney seems to be overdoing it.”
  • Josh Marshall of TPM saw it as a playing of the otherness card, “It’s all of a piece with the constant refrains that Obama is an outsider to whatever is essential about the American experience of simply being an American.  But it’s getting closer to the surface.
  • Mark Kleiman of the erroneously-named Reality Based Community announced “I guess the rest of us racial inferiors – Krauts and Kikes and Spics and Dagoes and Chinks and such-like, not to mention that n—-r in the White House – had better re-learn our place.”
  • And on and on it went.

Then the Romney campaign denied that anyone was authorized to or to its knowledge did make such a statement, and stated that it did not reflect Romney’s position.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones was one of the few voices of sanity on the left (h/t Doug Mataconis):

I dunno, folks. That first paragraph was pure editorializing by the Telegraph reporter. Only the second paragraph comes from the Romney advisor. So why did he use the term “Anglo-Saxon”? At a guess, because he was talking off the cuff, wanted some kind of phrase that suggested the U.S. and Britain have a shared history — which we obviously do — and that’s what popped out. It was a mistake, but it’s the kind of trivial mistake that happens when you’re talking without notes.

As for the swelling tide of suggestions that this was a racial dog whistle, color me dubious. Does anyone seriously think that the Romney campaign decided that the best way to send a message to Southern whites was via a quote to a London newspaper? That’s a tough sell.

We may never know if the statement was made as reported in The Telegraph.  It seemed an odd configuration.  “Anglo-American” relationship seems like a more normal terminology, which might have been what the person meant to say.

Would “Anglo-American” have kicked off the contrived firestorm of accusations of racism?  Probably.

In a time when Obama is on the defensive for jumping on Elizabeth Warren’s anti-factory owner bandwagon, anything which changes the subject even for a morning is a good morning for Obama.