The hot new thing on the Left these days is a conspiracy theory that Mitt Romney went to the NAACP with the intention of getting booed in order to rally racist whites behind him.

First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on Bloomberg TV and said “I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention.”

Then MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell posited that “the Romney campaign actually went in that room today with the hope of getting booed, at least three times, because they want the video of their candidate being booed by the NAACP to play in certain racist precincts where that will actually help them.” My colleague Charlie Spiering dragged up some of the other ridiculous race-card plays in that O’Donnell segment.

But Newsweek’s Michael Tomasky laid out this idea in the most detail. I’ll quote the most relevant parts here:

 ”Romney is … a race-mongering pyromaniac….”

You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word “Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos. It’s a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president’s supporters consider it an insult. He and his team had to know those boos were coming

Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story “Romney Booed at NAACP” would jazz up their (very white) base.

Tomasky has to twist himself into knots to flesh out this theory, using the standard conspiracy-theorist tool for any evidence to the contrary — oh, that was just to throw you off the trail!

But is ”Obamacare” such a loaded term that it should be considered race-baiting? Then I look forward to Pelosi’s, O’Donnell’s, and Tomasky’s denunciations of the Center for American Progress using the term here, here, here, here, here, here, and many other places (h/t to Glenn Greenwald for that little catalogue).

No, there’s no grounding to Pelosi’s, O’Donnell’s, or Tomasky’s argument. But this is what to expect for the rest of the year: No matter what you say, if it’s critical of Obama, you are opening yourself to be called racist or at least a “race-monger.”

Now, some criticisms of Obama do seem to me to be race-baiting. When Newt Gingrich called Obama a “food-stamp president,” that struck me as an attempt to marshall racial resentment to his corner. But when Rick Perry referred to a “black cloud” of debt, MSNBC host Ed Schultz called that race-baiting, which is absurd. And now Romney is racist for using a term Obama himself has embraced.

It seems to me that this all is either a cynical ploy to abuse anyone who dares criticize Obama, so as to silence debate; or it’s a perverse belief that it’s racist to run against Obama.