I want to call your attention to an excellent post late last week by Jamelle Bouie, which gets bonus points because he called it "Fear of a Black Polity," which is excellent. I'm not going to quote the main points; just read it.
I do have one quibble. Bouie says that "no one questioned Clinton’s legitimacy because he received 84 percent of African American votes." Well, I don't know about that. People did question Clinton's legitimacy; he did receive the overwhelming majority of African American votes. Are we really certain those things are unrelated? I don't think so. I think the same forces were at work in the past when black voters supported white politicians.
To get away a bit from Bouie's point...the real difference between Clinton and Obama, moreover, at least in my reading is that Clinton was treated as an illegitimate usurper by a lot of the permanent Washington establishment, not just by partisans. I've always believed that a large part of that had to do with the people surrounding the president -- not just African Americans, but women, young people, and others who just didn't look like a typical White House staff and cabinet. You have to remember: before Clinton, there have been twelve years of Republicans in the White House, and whatever you want to say about Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, no one accused either them or their staffs of being young and hip. Seriously; we're talking about people such as Michael Deaver (b. 1938), James Baker (1930), John Sununu (1939), and Dick Darman (1943). It's not just that Bill Clinton was a baby boomer; it's that there was just an enormous cultural gap between what White Houses had always looked like and what the Clinton Administration looked like. Lots and lots of leaps such as the one from Marlin Fitzwater (b. 1942) to Dee Dee Myers (1961).
Not that Clinton's White House was any model of diversity; one can argue that George W. Bush did better on that score. But compared to what had been in the White House...well, forever, it was both far more diverse and far younger. I'm convinced that a lot of long-time Washingtonians -- themselves, of course, white men born during or before WWII -- looked at the new crowd and just didn't think it looked right. And, yes, I do think that both gender and ethnicity had a fair amount to do with that -- and it wouldn't surprise me if it also had something to do with which voters had supported Clinton.