Wash. Post's Givhan suggested political motivation for Obama's choice of tie colors

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The Washington Post's Robin Givhan wrote: "One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve." Givhan continued: "No flag pin on the lapel. No hand on heart during the national anthem. And he generally shuns bold red ties." In the piece, Givhan offered no explanation as to how a "bold red tie" is a "usual symbol[] of nationalism and politics," or how Obama's alleged avoidance of "bold red ties" constitutes a statement on patriotism.

In one of the pieces comprising The Washington Post's December 14 "Front-runners" profile of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Post fashion editor Robin Givhan wrote: "One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve." Givhan continued: "Whether he is speaking at a campaign rally, attending a fish fry or debating his Democratic challengers, he comes across as the candidate least willing to drape himself in the usual symbols of nationalism and politics. No flag pin on the lapel. No hand on heart during the national anthem. And he generally shuns bold red ties." In the column, Givhan offered no explanation as to how a "bold red tie" is a "usual symbol[] of nationalism and politics," or how Obama's alleged avoidance of "bold red ties" constitutes a statement on patriotism.

The Post bills its "Front-runners" series as a "revealing look at each of the leading presidential candidates." While Givhan's column might be construed as positive, her invocation of the theme that Obama doesn't wear his "patriotism on his sleeve" could serve to reinforce smears echoed among conservatives in the media and reportedly in emails spreading falsehoods about Obama, including the false claim that he is Muslim, the false rumor that he was educated in a madrassa, and the general notion that he is insufficiently American or patriotic. A front-page article in The Washington Post itself recently came under widespread criticism, including from Post media critic Howard Kurtz. The article repeated false rumors that Obama attended a madrassa as a child in Indonesia without noting that those rumors had been thoroughly debunked by several news organizations. The article stated that "[d]espite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a 'Muslim plant' in a conspiracy against America."

In audio commentary accompanying a slideshow on washingtonpost.com, Givhan claimed: "On those rare occasions when he wears a tie that one might describe as being in the red family, it's closer to burgundy than a God-bless-America hue." Media Matters for America found several photos of Obama wearing ties that, in Givhan's words, are "in the red family." For purposes of comparison, here is an example of burgundy. Givhan did not elaborate on what constitutes a "God-bless-America hue."

Photos of Obama in ties in the red family available on the Internet include:

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) gestures as Senator Hillary ...

Additionally, in writing "No hand on heart during the national anthem," Givhan was rehashing false allegations that first surfaced in anonymous emails attacking Obama's patriotism. The emails, which contained a photo of Obama standing for the national anthem without his hand over his heart, falsely claimed that Obama refused to pledge allegiance to the American flag. Obama called them a "dirty trick." In fact, as Snopes.com pointed out, the Obama campaign subsequently released photographs of Obama with his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

From Givhan's December 14 Washington Post column:

One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve. Whether he is speaking at a campaign rally, attending a fish fry or debating his Democratic challengers, he comes across as the candidate least willing to drape himself in the usual symbols of nationalism and politics. No flag pin on the lapel. No hand on heart during the national anthem. And he generally shuns bold red ties.

Obama refuses to dress the part of the presidential contender, with all of its safely prepackaged banality. He has never fully embraced the stereotypical uniform of Washington. Even in the glossy pages of Men's Vogue in September 2006, when he was positioned as Kennedy, Santa Claus and the Messiah all rolled into one, he was never pictured in the traditional political costumes or doing any of the glad-handing that is standard practice.

Posted In
Elections
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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