THE NATION: Barack Obama has had to spend hours on the campaign trail debunking the lie that he is Muslim. This story first circulated via a right-wing email smear campaign, as my colleague Chris Hayes documented, but has since taken on a life of its own, spawning more and more fantastic conspiracies about Obama. Today the story took an even more bizarre turn, when Drudge posted a picture of Obama dressed as a traditional Somali elder on a trip back to Kenya in 2006. The photo of Obama, in a white sash and white turban, was clearly meant to stoke the “Obama is a Muslim” flames.
More worrisome, Drudge says he received the photo from “Clinton staffers.” That revelation prompted one of the most bizarre non-denial denials in recent political history. “There are 700 people in our organization,” the Clinton campaign told blogger Marc Ambinder. “We can’t be sure that it didn’t come from us. It is not the intent of the campaign to release this picture to tarnish Senator Obama in any way, but if someone in the campaign thinks the Obama camp gets treated differently by the media, well, they’re right.”
So essentially camp Clinton is saying: it may or may not have been us, but even if it was us, that’s fine, because the media is biased in favor of Barack Obama. Does the end always justify the means? A stunt like this is almost guaranteed to backfire on Clinton, like so many of the campaign’s previous attacks. It was in poor taste to begin with, and the spin thereafter was clumsy and incoherent, reinforcing the fears among many Democrats that Clinton may attempt to tear apart Obama on the road to defeat. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a “madrassa” are not accurate, according to CNN reporting. Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam. Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa. Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by “researchers connected to Senator Clinton.” [via CNN.COM]
RELATED: All of the claims about Senator Obama’s faith and education raised in the Insight Magazine story and repeated on Fox News are false. Senator Obama was raised in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother. Obama’s stepfather worked for a U.S. oil company, and sent his stepson to two years of Catholic school, as well as two years of public school. To be clear, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa. These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems. [via Obama campaign web site]