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US Politics

Obama & Diplomatic Dress

APEC’s dress protocol requires that all attending heads of government dress in the traditional attire of the host country

My response to concern about photos of Barack Obama pictured on a visit to Kenya where he is photographed posing in African tradional garb. The pictures, reportedly being circulated by supporters of the Clinton campaign are being broadcast on the world’s media. The inference is clear! But as usual, wrong.

Many Americans may not be aware of APEC. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation”. It is an annual economic summit of 21 Pacific rim countries including the United States. First conceived in 1989 by the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, it was expanded to include heads of government in 1993.

Since its inception, APEC’s dress protocol has required that all attending heads of government dress in the traditional attire of the host country (supplied by the host) Presidents of the United States, Clinton and Bush readily embraced the custom.

Sydney, Australia hosted the 2007 APEC conference. (In his opening address GW Bush had a slip of the tongue and said how pleased his was to be in Sydney to attend the OPEC conference! [The oil cartel] For heaven’s sake – C’Mon Barack!

The media would be replete with videos and photos of US Presidents Clinton and Bush annually turning out in the traditonal garb of APEC host countries. By now they would have accumlated so much gear, they could open a costume hire business. Checkmate I think!



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  1. It is so obvious that these photos, which as you mention, show Obama simply adorned in traditional garb, as a respect to the African culture. This practice has long been carried out by American Presidents and other officials, as well as by leaders and visitors of other countries.

    The attempt to invoke the same type of nonsensical fear tactics that have been circulating throughout the Bush administration, by sending mailings of Obama in this outfit, by whomever is responsible, is debase on many levels. It appeals to the low-level thinking of very biased and closed- minded people and helps to maintain a backwards sense of white superiority and racial tension.

    This was clearly the plan, and I’m quite sure it will backfire, along with the other misguided attempts at playground bullying that have been used by the Clinton campaign and others.

    Posted by Ritz | February 26, 2008, 6:44 pm