Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Turbanator

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 1:34 PM

When Barack Obama responded recently to criticisms from Hillary Clinton by saying the presidential race had reached "the Silly Season," he didn't know it was about to get a lot sillier. Yesterday, the rightwing, and frequently unreliable, "Drudge Report" political blog posted a photo of Obama looking like Taliban Santa, wearing traditional Somali clothing. Drudge claimed the picture, which was taken during an official trip to an ethnic Somali area in Kenya, was sent by the Clinton campaign. The implication was that Hillary's people were trying to smear Obama by connecting him with ... what, exactly? Islam? Terrorism? Kickbacks from Kenyan turban exporters? It's actually unclear what point the Clinton folks wanted to make — if, that is, they sent Drudge the photo at all, which, of course, they deny.

obamasomali.jpg

Matt Drudge, a wholesale sleazemonger who became famous for breaking stories during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, has long functioned as a Republican attack tool — which hasn't kept lazy D.C. journalists from treating him as a good story source. My gut feeling — and I admit it's nothing more than that — is that the photo probably came from a GOP source claiming to be a Clinton flunky.

Think about it. Republicans have been trying to instill an Obama-Islam connection in the public mind for some time by repeatedly, and falsely, claiming he was educated in a fundamentalist Muslim madrassa, and playing games with his middle name, Hussein. And I've lost count of how many times Fox News has "accidentally" called him "Osama." So the GOP sends the photo, Drudge stokes the fire, and Clinton and Obama waste a whole day arguing about an utterly unimportant event. As a bonus, the GOP gets a photo of Obama in "Muslim" garb into the mainstream media, where it can only help them with one of their traditional constituencies, terror-fied ignoramuses. It's a wonderful world.

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