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Obama in Muslim Garb

The Clinton campaign is circulating a 2006 photo of Barack Obama in Somali tribal clothes, playing to the “B. Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim” nonsense, and getting properly excoriated from the left and right alike. Indeed, even Robert Spencer[*] judges the “Obama-Is-Secretly-A-Muslim” rumors to be “a lot of hooey.”

Barack Obama Somali Muslim Garb

The attack is backfiring on Clinton, feeding into the “she’s desperate and will do anything to win” meme. And the Obama campaign’s reaction is a home run:

On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.

The consensus of this one hasn’t prevented a few from having some fun with the charges. Hilzoy has an amusing photo of President Bush in Vietnamese costuming with a tongue-in-cheek attack on him as a “secret Vietnamese.”

APEC Official Photo Vietnam 2006

And perhaps secretly gay as well? The photo is from the 2006 APEC Summit and part of a tradition apparently started in 1993 with this famous photo:

APEC 1993 Clinton

There have been some doozies since, although none have been quite as iconic.

APEC 2005 Korea Official Photo

APEC 2005 Mexico Official Photo

Now, granted, Obama wasn’t attending an international summit meeting and could more easily have gotten out of donning garb that looks silly in a Western context. But playing along with this sort of thing is hardly evidence of anything other than poor fashion judgment.

UPDATE: Via Jonathan Martin, I see that Drudge has added an “EDITOR’S NOTE: Other leaders have worn local costumes” and includes this one:

Hillary Clinton Muslim Garb

Glass house, meet Stone.

*UPDATE: I use “even Robert Spencer” here to connote that, as the blogosphere’s guru of all things jihadist, a clean bill of health from him rather settles it instead of “even that nut Robert Spencer isn’t so crazy as to say this.” It’s as if I were to say that, “Even William F. Buckley concedes that John McCain is a conservative.”

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Now, granted, Obama wasn’t attending an international summit meeting and could more easily have gotten out of donning garb that looks silly in a Western context.

    When in Rome….

    But seriously, why is dressing according to local custom considered “silly” in a Western context?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  2. Bob Carmichael says:

    Thanks guys for the info. I’ll forward this link and spread the word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Luis de Souza says:

    This is why we can’t afford another 4 (let alone 8) yrs of Clintons. They’re infamous for this scare-and-smear tactic, scandals that have turned into secrets, and win-at-all-costs campaigns. I hope the American public and especially Democrats become outraged and end their faulty reign.

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  4. B. Minich says:

    Secretly gay? Well, Putin IS winking . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. James Joyner says:

    But seriously, why is dressing according to local custom considered “silly” in a Western context?

    Because it’s out of context. Jeans and a t-shirt look odd in a business meeting, cowboy boots strange in Manhattan, and so forth.

    I was in Egypt for a month on a Fulbright trip back in 2001 and we had an event where we all wore traditional Egyptian clothing (gallibiya and kufis, mostly). I still have it and wore it once to a costume party but, otherwise, keep it in the closet.

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  6. KJ says:

    Congratulations Hillary,

    In the last month you have proven what many of us have suspected for a long time. You are Richard Nixon’s first cousin.

    If we elect the Clinton’s we will get what we deserve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Michael says:

    Because it’s out of context. Jeans and a t-shirt look odd in a business meeting, cowboy boots strange in Manhattan, and so forth.

    Ok, if the context is “Western”, it would look silly. So you are absolutely right in your statement. But I myself would consider the context of the picture to be Somalia, in which case it isn’t silly.

    We expect foreign dignitaries to wear a suit and tie when they visit the US, so I don’t find it silly for our dignitaries dress according to the customs of the places they visit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  8. James Joyner says:

    We expect foreign dignitaries to wear a suit and tie when they visit the US, so I don’t find it silly for our dignitaries dress according to the customs of the places they visit.

    For the most part, I agree. The “traditional costumes” are often relics of the past with the local leaders actually wearing Western suits and ties on a daily basis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    B. Hussein Obama is a Muslim name. He did go to Muslim schools as a child. His brother is reportedly a radical Muslim. He goes to a church which speaks highly of Louis Farakhan. I am shocked, shocked I say to see Hussein dressed in Muslim garb. This guy does not walk on water. Why is it nobody has asked him the hard questions? The MSM has given him a pass just like they did to Willy Jeff. I want to know what he hopes for and what changes he has in mind. My life is pretty good right now and I don’t think I want some empty suit changing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  10. Eneils Bailey says:

    All of this is OK.
    But, I hope the Pope does not dress up as Mickey Mouse if he ever visits Disney World.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Triumph says:

    I was in Egypt for a month on a Fulbright trip back in 2001 and we had an event where we all wore traditional Egyptian clothing (gallibiya and kufis, mostly). I still have it and wore it

    No wonder you’re defending Hussein–it appears you have similar tendencies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  12. [...] times have arrived at the Hillary Clinton campaign as they circulating a photo of Barack Obama wearing Somali clothes during a visit to that country in 2006. This of course is intended to play into the [...]

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  13. Len says:

    As Senator Obama said… this is the silly season in politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. [...] times have arrived at the Hillary Clinton campaign as they circulating a photo of Barack Obama wearing Somali clothes during a visit to that country in 2006. This of course is intended to play into the [...]

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  15. anjin-san says:

    I guess Hillary won’t be departing on a classy note after all…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Michael says:

    I guess Hillary won’t be departing on a classy note after all…

    Was that ever really in question?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Adam says:

    Can anyone explain to me how they think they know the Clintons circulated this and not the Republicans who now believe Obama will be the nominee? Think people. Please for the sake of your country don’t play into the Republicans hands as you so often do. You need to think critically about this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  18. Adam says:

    And I hope you do all realize that this will destroy them both. It can now not be stopped. Hillary will be accused of race-baiting and inciting hate and millions of thoughtless Americans have already seen a relatively unknown candidate named Barack Hessein Obama in Muslim garb while we are at war with Muslims. Who does this benefit the most? Think about this. What if she did not do it? What if she is the best qualified president and you are helping the Republicans destroy both of them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. Adam says:

    AND. For all of you who read these comments for as long as they are up, don’t be surprised if you notice soon that they have been pulled down. You need to understand that the people we have been fighting for the last 8 years are brilliant and powerful. You are their tools.

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  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hillary will be accused of race-baiting and inciting hate and millions of thoughtless Americans have already seen a relatively unknown candidate named Barack Hussein Obama in Muslim garb while we are at war with Muslims.

    Since when have you guys been at war with anyone other then heterosexuals, Christians, and unborn babies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Michael says:

    Can anyone explain to me how they think they know the Clintons circulated this and not the Republicans who now believe Obama will be the nominee?

    Because McCain isn’t stupid, and he isn’t desperate, there’s no motive for it to come from the GOP side.

    Who does this benefit the most?

    So far it seems to be Barack Obama, and if it was his campaign that sent this out, I’m surprised nobody’s discovered that yet.

    For all of you who read these comments for as long as they are up, don’t be surprised if you notice soon that they have been pulled down.

    You’ll find that James very rarely censors his site, no matter how controversial the subject of the posts. I’d be very surprised if anything happened to your posts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Michael says:

    Since when have you guys been at war with anyone other then heterosexuals, Christians, and unborn babies.

    We have nothing against the unborn straight christians, though after birth you guys tend to get obnoxious.

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  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol, how you doing Michael? I like to think Ive been like this since conception.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Michael says:

    I like to think Ive been like this since conception.

    Straight or obnoxious?

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  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    Straight or obnoxious?

    come on dude, obnoxious, only liberals are born gay. lol.

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  26. An Interested Party says:

    Indeed…conservatives only freelance as gay in bathroom stalls…

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  27. Chris says:

    B. Hussein Obama is a Muslim name. He did go to Muslim schools as a child. His brother is reportedly a radical Muslim… I am shocked, shocked I say to see Hussein dressed in Muslim garb.
    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III

    Uuuuuugggghhhh……………

    ‘Hussein Obama’ is the family name of his Kenyan father, who left the family homw when he was two, who he barely at all remembers and who died 19 years later without them ever having a further meeting. He didn’t go to a ‘madrassa’ Muslim school in Indonesia as some have claimed, it was a run of the mill elementary school with Christian, secular and Muslim pupils. I went to an Anglican church elementary school which had Hindu and Sikh kids in attendance and I am neither an Anglican nor a Hindu or Sikh.

    You are ‘shocked’ to see him in Muslim dress? Were you shocked to find out George W Bush is a Japanese-Peruvian with a Vietnamese twist as well?

    There is nothing wrong with attacking someone’s political motivations if you are well informed and make valid points. I am not the world’s greatest fan of some of the more left-wing ‘big government’ stances of Obama, but you will do your arguement a massive deal of damage attacking falsehoods which have been spun up against someone in order to play to people’s latent prejudices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. [...] “arguments” directly made by the campaign in the last several weeks. The silly “look, he dressed like a cra-zee Muslim” bit yesterday underscores the desperation of the Clinton camp (and their anemic denials [...]

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  29. [...] in Muslim Garb February 25th, 2008 Kerry wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe Clinton campaign is circulating a [...]

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  30. floyd says:

    “”Indeed…conservatives only freelance as gay in bathroom stalls.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Just as certainly the liberals are bi-sexual pedophiles, since they want to screw every man, woman and child in the country!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Costume party…

    Just how stupid is this Obama in Muslim garb thing? James Joyner has the roundup. I always suspected George W. Bush was secretly asian…….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  32. An Interested Party says:

    Well at least liberals are equal opportunity bi-sexual pedophiles who want to screw everyone in the country…conservatives, on the other hand, are selective bi-sexual pedophiles, as they only want to screw everyone who isn’t rich and white…I now understand why floyd types so many silly things, it’s just so much fun…

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  33. Hillary Loses: Republicans Attacking Obama…

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  34. Nick says:

    I don’t believe this will even effect Obama in a negative way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Abdulkadir says:

    I’m a somali guy and I was really shocked to see how the Clintons played foul with the Obama picture. Dressing in such a way is common among Somali elders and the dress has no religious significance among Somalis. By the way Hillary also wore Islamic head gear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. [...] has been made of this photo and its implications. It points to a whisper campaign that says Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim, that [...]

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  37. John Vane says:

    People are missing the point. It’s not up to Obama. You CAN’T opt out of Islam like you can from Christianity.

    Barack Obama was born a Muslim and spent his early childhood in a Muslim household. If he were to be declared by conservative mullahs to be an apostate (one who has forsaken Islam), he could not meet Nuri al-Maliki, Hamid Karzai, Pervez Musharraf, King Abdullah, Abu Marzen or any other Muslim leader. If they shook hands with an apostate, they would bring down a fatwa on their own heads.

    But would he be declared an apostate? Koranic scholars differ.

    This blogpost is balanced and has no anti-Obama agenda.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1