Obama’s robe: Something to be ashamed of?

I’m sure by now a lot of you have seen the picture of Senator Barack Obama in traditional robes he wore on a visit to Kenya in 2006. If you haven’t yet, here it is:

Barack Obama wearing Somali clothing in Kenya in 2006
(Image: BBC News/AP)

The Obama camp has accused Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign of “shameful, offensive fear-mongering”; Senator Clinton’s aides deny they are involved. The BBC’s North America editor, Justin Webb, notes that the Obama staff were very angry about the photo.

Senator Clinton’s new campaign manager, Maggie Williams, hits the nail on the head with her comments, in my opinion: “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed.”

What exactly, pray tell, is wrong of wearing traditional dress of the places you visit (let alone your home country)? Is this something Senator Obama should be ashamed of? I’m rather surprised and confused at his reaction to this. There is no shame in immersing in the culture of where he goes to – President Bush and other world leaders (notably at APEC meetings) commonly do so.

And as an aside, CNN polls now suggest that for the first time, Sen Clinton is behind Sen Obama in Texas, which votes on March 4. One to watch.

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