wheel - 2:45 pm on Aug 7, 2011 (gmt 0)
Much better to have good content, get whatever freely given and editorial backlinks you can, and let your internal linking pass that PR around the site.
Absolutely. You don't rank due to backlinks (well, you can, but it's not as good), the backlinks give you the authority to rank. Then when you want to rank on a term, just publish a page on the topic. Voila, instant rankings.