Obama 'turban'; is Hillary playing dirty tricks?

Obama robed in traditional Somali dress on a visit to Kenya in 2006 The release of a photo of Barack Obama wearing African dress, apparently released by Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, has sparked bitter criticism on the blogosphere. Bad publicity for the candidate? Which one?


Obama robed in traditional Somali dress on a visit to Kenya in 2006

In what seems to be a change in tack by the Clinton campaign team, election observers have noticed a shift towards negative campaigning by the Democratic candidate. On Monday, the Drudge Report, an online publication that became famous for uncovering the Monica Lewinsky affair back in 1997, reported that one of Clinton’s staff had released a photo of Obama wearing traditional African clothes and what was assumed to be a turban. The blogosphere reacted immediately with a flurry of insults against the senator, accusing her of scaremongering. But whether it was indeed her doing is yet to be verified. The campaign team says that they “don’t know anything about it”.

Obama hits back

Hillary made some really scurrilous attacks against Obama today...this one will lose her the nomination. Time's up Hillary and you only have yourself to blame!"

Posted on "Pushing the Envelope", 25 Feb. 08

"The hat was just protection from the wind"

Abdulkadir Mohamed, a Somali Muslim who has been living in the US for eight years and writes the blog "Royale Somali":

My first reaction to this was that it was funny. Living in the US, I know there's a segment of the society that can easily be swayed. They think that anything Muslim or Islam-related is a danger. But living in Minneapolis, there's a large Muslim community here; we even have a Muslim senator, so we found it quite funny. The thing is that the clothes he was wearing are the clothes that any dignitary would have to wear, and are considered an honour. Except the hat- which is actually a headscarf; not a turban- that's just for sand blown from the wind! The costume is purely cultural, nothing else.

This picture was used to scare people. Islam has become a liability in the US and some people are easily scare-mongered. If it really was Clinton it will come back to hurt her. Some people are so upset about it they will now vote for Obama. For me and my friends, many of them African, Obama is the way forward for foreign policy. They're all talking about this affair. Some have joked that they will go to the caucus with greater conviction now- and dressed in the same outfit, just for a laugh."

'The damage is done. Not to Obama, but to Clinton'

Michael Dentandt, California, writer for Osprey blogs:

How could Clinton, a Democrat, stoop to the base, cheap, scurrilous, underhanded tactics that came to light Monday morning on the web? It's enough to turn a political cynic off cynicism.


What motivated Clinton's people to pass around this photo? Let's see. Here we have a candidate for political office, a black candidate, in a photo with another black man, an African. Both are decked out in foreign clothing. Obama looks ridiculous, like a cross between the Dalai Lama and an Afghan mullah.

Here's the message behind that photo, direct to middle America from the Clinton campaign: Obama, though he was born in the United States, is not a real American. He's a foreigner. He's ‘other'. He wears a white turban, for heaven's sake. Who else do we know who wears a white turban?

The distribution of this photo was clearly a calculated move to play on racism and middle-class, conservative America's fear of ‘the other'. (...) we know what foreigners do, don't we? They just can't be trusted.

... the damage has been done. Not to Obama, but to Clinton. Given Obama's string of recent primary wins, her campaign was already grasping at straws.

Now it has descended into the muck. Shame on Hillary Clinton and shame on her campaign."

The costume in full