clinton accused of playing dirty

Wes Allison

Wes Allison

WASHINGTON - The only thing more striking than the photograph of Senator Barack Obama in a turban that's making the rounds this week is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's reaction to it.

The photo of Obama in Somali tribal garb, far right, was posted on Monday on the Drudge Report, a popular internet hub for scandal, and identified as coming from the Clinton campaign.

The Clinton campaign hasn't directly denied this, saying it can't speak for the actions of its 700 staffers. But as Obama accused Clinton of playing dirty in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams was unmoved.

"Enough," she said in a statement. "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed."

Substitute Clinton for Obama in the photo, then sure. Or Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee. For Obama, however, the picture is likely to be taken as much more than a visiting dignitary playing dress-up to honour his hosts.

Since early last year, Obama's campaign has been waging a counter insurgency against an insidious whisper campaign - conducted primarily via the internet - that he is a Muslim, that he took the oath of office on the Koran, that he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance. - Times researcher Melissa August contributed to this report.