Today, the big story in Election 2008 has been a photo of Barack Obama dressed in Somali clothing.
Of all the issues that matter to Americans, I don't think what Obama wears during a visit to Kenya is important. Nonetheless, that's what dominated election news.
The Obama camp made the photo a big deal.
According to Retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration:
“I was along on that picture,” Gration said. They were seeing a “community mobilization” in Wajir and witnessed the “live auction” of camels and other livestock..
During the course of this, Obama was given an outfit, and “as a great guest,” he tried it on, much in the way, Gration said, people “try on Christmas gifts” they may not want to keep.
Obama did “what any leader should do…accept the gift, accept the hospitality,” said Gration. Obama was “accepting a gift of friendship in a way we expect,” he said.
...The reporters covering Obama on the trip did not accompany Obama to Wajir, told that there were too many logistical challenges to getting many people to a remote site for a short visit.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement, release of the photo “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.”
Obama put on the Somali outfit to be polite?
"[H]e tried it on, much in the way, Gration said, people 'try on Christmas gifts' they may not want to keep."
That seems like an insult, doesn't it? Obama put on the outfit like a Christmas gift he wants to return. Gration makes it sound like Obama was hoping he had a gift receipt for easy exchange.
I don't think the photo itself is an issue. However, the incident does raise some questions.
Mark Levin made an excellent point about the photo of Obama in Somali clothing and his campaign's outrage and the ensuing explanations. Levin noted that Obama's people declared that was he being a "great guest" and putting on the outfit out of respect for his hosts.
So Obama is willing to don Somali garb as a sign of respect yet he doesn't respect his country enough to wear an American flag pin on his lapel. That's something he's not willing to do.
Why does Obama refuse to wear one?
Last fall as a guest on the Tonight Show, Obama addressed the issue when Jay Leno (flag pin wearer) asked about it.
From October 18, 2008:
When Leno brought up the "flag pin" issue, Obama stumbled around a bit.
"This is the nature of presidential politics. I mean, there's always something. Now the truth is that I wore a pin right after 9/11."
It's always bad when a politician says, "The truth is...." That's a big red flag.
Obama continued, "When I took it off, I lost it."
I hadn't heard that before, that he lost his one and only flag pin.
Obama said, "I didn't replace it even though I have terrific respect for those who wear it because I think a lot of politicians will put their flag pin on and then act in a real unpatriotic manner."
That sounds stupid. I think he simply wanted to appeal to the Lefties, the anti-flag base.
"I mean you had Alberto Gonzales wearing a flag pin the whole time he was shredding the Constitution. And what I want people to do is to judge me by how I act."
That shot was completely unnecessary. It was cheap and over the top. I think Obama forgot that he was addressing an enormous and diverse television audience, and not a group of Barack fans at a fundraiser.
Obama really sounded lame. It was not a good moment for Obama the Articulate.
Obama says he wants people to judge him by how he acts rather than by a pin in his lapel.
OK. That's fair. I think he's acting like a "bad guest" in his own country.
If only he would grant the same respect to the United States and the American flag, the symbol of our nation, that he granted to his Kenyan hosts.
From Sweetness & Light: