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Sweet: The story behind the Obama photo on


WASHINGTON—Retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration, who accompanied Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on his trip to Kenya in 2006, on Monday defended Obama’s trying on local garb over his clothes during a visit to the rural Wajir region in the country, a picture of which is at the top right now of the Drudge Report. LINK

Obama was merely being a “great guest,” Gration said.

The main story on the Drudge Report on Monday shows Obama fitted as a "Somali Elder” and Drudge’s story said “Clinton staffers” –who were not named--were circulating the picture.

The Obama campaign said release of this photo was “fear mongering” and “ divisive.” The Clinton campaign said the senator has been widely photographed wearing traditional dress, suggesting that there was nothing to raise a fuss about.

Gration was with Obama on every leg of the African visit, including Wajir, an area that often does not get the attention of foreign visitors. Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was treated as a head-of-state during the visit, part of a multi-nation trip of which Kenya was the highlight. Obama, his wife Michelle, their two daughters and friends accompanied them on the Kenya leg of the trip.

Gration is a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force major general, a native of St. Charles, Ill., who spent much of his youth in Africa. I asked him about the circumstances surrounding the photo during a conference call the Obama campaign organized as a prebuttal to a major foreign policy speech Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will deliver today in Washington. The just completed call featured Obama foreign policy advisors Susan Rice, Gration and former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.

“I was along on that picture,” Gration said. They were seeing a “community mobilization” in Wajir and witnessed the “live auction” of camels and other livestock..

During the course of this, Obama was given an outfit, and “as a great guest,” he tried it on, much in the way, Gration said, people “try on Christmas gifts” they may not want to keep.

Obama did “what any leader should do…accept the gift, accept the hospitality,” said Gration. Obama was “accepting a gift of friendship in a way we expect,” he said.

Rice, who served as an African expert in President Clinton’s White House, said release of the photo was designed “to be divisive.’’ But she also noted that President Clinton had himself dressed in kinte cloth as part of respecting local customs and cultures.

The reporters covering Obama on the trip did not accompany Obama to Wajir, told that there were too many logistical challenges to getting many people to a remote site for a short visit.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement, release of the photo “On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.”

Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams countered 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. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.


So why is Obama getting his undies all in a bundle over this? Oh yes Hillary is picking on him, poor baby! Obama is acting ashamed of this photo and turning it into some kind of vendaetta against him. Not at all the way I would expect a prospective commander-in chief to respond, but then that is why I would never acknowledge Obama as my president. Suck it up Obama, life gets a lot tougher than this!

It's all end game now. Hillary is done. As a Republican supporting Obama, I take some pleasure that Democrats can now see what we Republicans have seen for a long long time. Billary will do anything for power, period. The beautiful part of this is, the very same dirty tricks they have relied upon for so long will now only speed up the avalanche of bad will that is crushing them.

What a great ambassador! I'm a republican but based on the 3 potential candidates, I will vote for Obama unless Huckberry miraclously takes the lead.

This is disturburbing and shameful. Winning is good, but how you play the game is better. Shame on you Hillary and your Maggie. Hopefully New Yorkers will send you home. Your negative and Bush-like fear tactics aren't what Americans need at this point. You are the looking more like Karl Rove than even John McCain. And, also most democrats will vote for McCain before they vote for you. Please pick up your marbels and go home, because you are disgracing the democratic party.

What Senator Obama did is the norm in a norm if one visits villages in Africa, Asia...Nothing new. Let alone people of high status, ordinary foreign visitors also get same kind of threatment. Haven't you seen our current President, George W. Bush, dancing holding a sword in the Middle East and even more so feeling at home in Africa. It's high time the campaign focuses on important issues, instead of focusing on irrelevant and uncalled for issues.Senator Obama wore some traditional African clothes so what? Maybe it's blown out of proportion by those who have no experience of visiting the rest of the world.

I understand the reason there are so many Muslim-phobes in America. I too was shocked by the events of 9/11/01.

However, there over one Billion Muslims in the world. The vast majority of them did not condone this act by a few radicals. We need to find a way to interact productively and peacefully with the majority of them.

Who will do the better job? Hillary Clinton began her career as a lawyer after graduating from Yale Law School ( A School of elites like Kerry and all the Bush boys), in 1973, moving to Arkansas and marrying Bill Clinton in 1975, following her career as a Congressional legal counsel; she was named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979 (many of us remember her being investigated as part of the savings and Loan boondoggle) and was listed as one of the one hundred most influential lawyers in America in 1988 and 1991. She was the First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992, was active in a number of organizations concerned with the welfare of children, and was on the board of Wal-Mart and several other corporate boards.

She is a Protestant Methodist, Her early political development was shaped most strongly by her energizing high school history teacher, who got her to read Goldwater's classic The Conscience of a Conservative and who was, like her father, a fervent anti-communist, and by her Methodist youth minister, like her mother concerned with issues of social justice; with the minister she saw and met civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago in 1962. In 1965, Rodham enrolled in Wellesley College, where she majored in political science. She served as president of the Rockefeller Republican-oriented Wellesley Young Republicans organization during her freshman year.

If you've read to this point you are probably thinking I am a Hillary fan. Well just read on!

Barack Obama graduated law school not from Yale, but from harvard. He had a Kenyan father and an American mother, his Step-father was indonesian. From ages six to ten, he lived in Jakarta with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. There he attended school where the language used was Indonesian. A theme of Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, and the title of his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Protestant Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ Reverend Wright retired in Feb. of this year. Obama describes his Indonesian Step-father as being raised a Muslim but goes on to say that his Step-father was in fact a practicing Athiest.

While Hillary has studied International relations in school and as an adult in politics, Barack actually grew up in the international community. I feel he has a much greater base understanding of the dynamic

The questions we have to ask ourselves are these. Which of these two has the best chance of first understanding what drives the Muslim world community, Who has the best chance of getting the attention and respect from that community, and lastly which of these two can regain the trust of the international community.

I personally think the answer is obvious. It's Barack Obama.

Didn’t see Bush dressing up in that type of garb during his trip to Africa!

What an idiot ! Do great guests come to the USA and dress as a great guest ? Give me a break. Obama and his people are stupid and stupid will vote him in..Moronic..

Wow... Hillary is just being a desperate little hag who will do anything to win. Like this crap. This isn't even fair. It's mud slinging.

I haven't seen Hilary dress up as a nun when she visits Catholic institutions.

I am a political activist who is scared to death that Obama will be killed in the manner of Robert Kennedy and Martin King. Bill O Reilly should be takn off the air and the hate mongering right should be confronted. This Clinton display confirms the connection we all know about. It is terrible. Jacquelyn Bruni phd

As a progressive, I look back on the Clinton years, and all things told, they weren't bad years. But boy, were they were tiring - you have a generally competent but exceptionally mendacious bunch (the Clintons) who are nominally 'on your side', and you have to wake up every day saying, "Yay for the lesser of two evils!".

I'd rather have a President I can genuinely be proud of. A man who's as smart as either Clinton, but with principles and personal integrity to boot. I support Barack Obama.

This is HILLARIOUS! People this is the best that she could do, she has to do something, her campaign is a flaming wreck at this point. So, what does she do? LOL, she posts a photo of Obama in muslim dress, the lies that were being emailed accusing Obama of being a Muslim didn't work so let's put a photo out there. A very sad day in politics.

So what if Obama is seen wearing African traditional clothing? so what if Bush is seen in a dance with Liberian traditional dancers? so what if Charlie Wilson was seen wearing local customary clothing in Afghanistan? This are all actions of respect towards visits by foreign dignitaries. Its a pity this is the kind of petty political smearing that the Clinton campaign expects to pass as a win-at-all-cost strategy. If the Clinton staffers have already pressed the panic button to gain support over Obama, i suggest they press it again for their own campaign exit strategy.

Then why'd you release it, Maggie?

Good job to the hillary camp of looking for an edge. Sorry not here. We are tired of your dirty tricks with a hidden message. We know it, and best advice: Take the photo and bury the crooked candidate and all the other 700 crooked advisors who have been brain washed to be crooked like the clintons. Not working here.
Words, to the wise! This stage, this will be hillary's first and last run. So much damage is being done she will not be able to piece herself together and all the her crooked cronies can not put her back together. No music to help her. No wisdom from her! "SHE IS ABSOLUTELY OUT OF A HEAD AND NOW OUT OF CONTROL"

If this isn't a wreckless grope in the dark to derail the momentum of Obama- I do not know what is.

The liberal attack dog mentality knows no bounds and much like an animal that eats its own young this act of mutiny on the Democratic ship is priceless.

Obama continues to swoon his followers who are deluded by an idea that he is a Messiah for America. Now we see Hillary tightening her grip on the last rung of the campaign ladder by showing this picture now?

Thank you Clinton supporters for your hypocrisy in which you believe that it is wrong to exercise racial profiling yet this photograph implies stark racial (and religious) meanings which drag 911 back into the frame.

So much for the regurgitated 60's drug induced 'make love not war' liberal message.

Wes Hazlett

Yes, Maggie, it's fine to see a WHITE woman in traditional garb, but when you have been accused of being a muslim and unpatriotic, I would have to say that you HAVE gone way below the belt... and you know it - you are the ones taking a play out of Karl Rove's playbook!

I've been sayin' for a while now, "it's just a matter of time before the right wing starts feedin' on their own" It turns out that Matt Drudge is one of the most balanced and reliable sources on the internet...not to mention, "balls on quick".

Obama was merely being a “great guest??? A great Guess my eye!! He looks more like Taliban Obama. In these times when Muslims are trying to kill us all this picture and OBAMA"S judgment is extremely suspect! I am not interested in sitting around holding hands with my enemies singing Kum by here.

Divisive? No. Stupid and ignorant? Yes.

"Traditional" Somali Elder dress (Somali Elders are by definition Muslims) is the dress worn by "traditional" Somali SLAVE TRADER, Barak! Talk about being unaware of his "roots". What a moron!

The Somali Muslims "traditionally" were and still are some of the most prolific and vicious slave traders in Africa. The tran-Saharan slave trade- by far the largest portion of the slave trade- continues to this day.

So, forget about being divisive- Barak dressing up in one of their traditional slave hunting outfits is just plain ignorant and insulting.

I once loved the Clintons, but
now I do not. I pray that people
are smart enough not to fall for
their divide and conquer tactics.
I wonder did any of her staff float
the story about how much money her
husband receives from the emire of
Dubai. They are low down dirty snakes

photo was published. Clinton believes the majority of Americans dislike Muslims. End of story. SMEAR.

I am a Kenyan and i can explain what goes on when a visitor comes over to visit.Nowmally,not everyone is feted in a specail way.kenya has 42 distinct tribes with different customs.when a respected person is society visits,whether its a woman or a man,he/she is given an honor of being coronated as an elder of that tribe.And you cannnot refuse this because its a custom and it will look like an abuse on the hospitalty of the people.
The president of kenya has been honored as an elder of almost all tribes in kenya,but that does not make him anything else other than a kikuyu by blood.It is just an honor
So,for Barrack Obama,he was made an elder of the kenyan somali community for the respect he showed by visiting those neglected people.Obama went to a place where the president of Kenya went once in 24 years.

Where is the PROOF that Hillary approved these pictures or had anything to do with them?

Obama should have just ignored the photo. The fact that he takes it "personal" shows that even the One cannot rise of "the same old politics that cripple Washington." Obama is typical, not special.

Questions surround the Obama campaign:

Has anyone thought that Obama's people put out this picture and try to blame Hillary?? It wouldn't be the first time a campaign has done that stunt and then blame their opponent.

Obama willingly wears the clothing of another country........but refuses to wear an American Flag pin because it gives out a false patriot vibe.......

You've got some explaining to do Mr. Obama???????

Hmmm, I see a lot of people claiming to be Republicans yet also claiming to be for Barack Obama. I am a Republican, and I wouldn't vote for Barack Obama if he was the only person running for President. I think most people who claim to be Republicans for Obama are liars, and are simply Democrats who hate Hillary Clinton. I have yet to meet a Republican who has said he/she would even consider voting for Barack Obama. Democrats need to stop lying and at least try and let us have a fair election.

I am a bit disappointed by how Obama took the bait on this one. A simple clarification would have sufficed, no need to get all puffed up about it.

There is something I don't understand. We live in a very tough World. I like Obama, because his presidency will bring about change and make a big difference in many people's lives. What Obama is going through right now, is nothing compared to what he'll go through if he runs against the Republican machine. You have to have a thick skin to run the number one country in the World. This picture is nothing but a picture. There is so much negativity in this campaign that you shouldn't believe everything you see or read. FOX is currently talking about Michelle Obama's thesis while at Princeton (Bringing Black people together under one Theme). The morality here is that it's going to be even more negative when if Obama runs against a Republican. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

McCain is going to win

Sen. Obama should fire his team for getting their knickers in a twist over this. How are they going to handle McCain? There's no crying in baseball. And since when do we believe the DRUDGE report?

Don't you think that it is a coincidence that this picture appears right along with the "endorsement" of Obama by Farrakhan? So instead of this being the big story today, we are distracted by a "vacation" photo. I would point the finger at the Obama campaign. And for your information, this picture has been on the web for months.

Wow, listen to you Obama lovers whine. You sound like him, in fact. It is true that he's had pictures taken of him in all sorts of native garb and those pics are publicly available. What's special about this one that he all of a sudden (and you along with him) are so upset about it? How does it make him look bad, or at least any worse than any of the others?

This reaction to that picture reminds me heavily of the reaction of all those nutjob muslims to some cartoons in a Danish newspaper. It's only one of the many pictures of Obama dressed up in a foreign costume. Get a grip!

Your words right back at you Hillary, "SHAME ON YOU!!!"
It is well known that world leaders dress in traditional costumes and try to respect the beliefs and customs of the country they are visiting. It's just good diplomacy and respect for others, something we have been lackin in the last 8 years and something which the Hillary people obviously lack. This man has more international experience or at least insight than all of Washington put together. She will say and do anything to get elected, as unethical as that may be.

Apparently RDT doesn't realize that there are still a few moderate republicans in the party. I know three first-hand who are voting for Obama

RE: Divisive? No. Stupid and ignorant? Yes.

What a dump comment to post. It's sad that you are telling people in the 21st century that Somalis enslave people. This is what's wrong with America, when any airhead is allowed to sit in front of a computer and write whatever comes to their AIRHEAD. Somalis have never enslaved anyone nor will they ever do. Somalis are proud AFRICANS who happen to be Muslims and they live in four different countries you dummy (Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya (where you see Obama) and Ethopian). So, we are in political season and Hillary is trying to get an advantage over Barack, so she is doing whatever. Garment Barack is wearing is like any AFRICAN DRESS that dignitaries are given when they to AFRICA. SHAME ON HILLARY TO PULL A ROVIAN MOVE ON BARACK.

It is saddenning to hear people give wrong facts!!what with chris saying Kenyan Somalis are vicious slave traders,get your history right!! stop spewwing hatred and cheap propaganda.

Why was Bush dancing and wearing traditional african clothings. So what that Obama wears an African Garb??? If you hate muslims, bring in the issue of 9/11 into the political fray, what will change? Muslims number 1Billion plus and forever will be around.
Get real and dont be bogged down with petty issues like this.

A couple of things; has it been proved that a Clinton staffer sent in the photos? Secondly even if it was a Clinton staffer, did the candidate know or approve?

I can't help asking these questions as it seems to me that a far more likely scenario is that a Republican operative sent the images in as a way to further divide the Obama/Clinton camps and sow discord among Democrats. I mena, who benefits if Obama & Clinton are constantly seen as at each other's throats? For my money it would be the Republican nomnee (McCain). And the timing - given McCain's recent lobbyist scandal - is perfect.

In the end I hope the Obama/Clinton camps settle their differences amicably because I think an Obama-Clinton/Clinton-Obama ticket would be AWESOME!!!!

Too many questionable things about Obama for me to want to vote for him. If he is the nominee, unless Hillary is the VP candidate, I will NOT vote for him.

I think in my gut there are just too many questions about his allegiance to this country and ties elsewhere. Better to be safe than sorry.

Too many here are too quick to accuse the Clinton Camp of circulating this photo. Those who are blaming the Clinton campaign could quite possibly be looked at as pawns by the GOP. This reeks of Republican action for two reasons...fearmongering, which the GOP does so well, and if they did it they could assume that the Clinton camp would get blamed. What a value for the Republicans...two jabs with one dirty trick. Think about it. There are more possible suspects than what you're considering.

Billary is getting desprate. After 11 straight defeats, Hillary et al are in their last gasps. But look at them, to win they will do anything? I want to have a leader that brings us together and takes hate and fear mongering out of politics.

I am afraid, Billary is a cold calculating politician who will do any thing and say anything to win. Would any of us have such a pair run the most powerful country in the world? I am voting for the young, fresh, and self made, Barack Obama....

Wow, you held my post because I pointed out your incomplete reporting on the fact the general you quote - without stating this - is a military adviser to Obama.

Shame on you.

I am Somali and Kenyan who was born and grew in that same small village of Wajir Obama visited in 2006. The clothing he is being fitted is just three simple pieces of clothing. What look like a turban is a head covering worn in parts of Africa for practical reasons and for a symbol. It is desert and windy in Wajir, so people wrap a piece of clothing in their head to protect sand blows getting into their hair and any elder who is a head of household wears to show his status in the society as an elder and leader of a family unit. Tuaregs in Niger and Mali, Somalis in East Africa, Hausa people in Nigeria and other African tribesmen all wear this kind of clothing. I know that some segments of American society is afraid of Muslims and after 9/11, Islam has become the favorite tool to scare people. I believe the uncultured, uneducated , un-worldly typical American has fallen victim to this fear-mongering tactic. Obama sounds like Osama, his middle name is Hussein like Saddam, and his father is Kenyan of two beautiful people from Kansas and Kenya. He is charismatic and has a verry attractive appeal as a uniter and inspirer. People all over the world love him for what he stands for and for what he will bring to the US administration which is to build bridges of understanding and relationships between cultures and people of the world. he also wants to end the unilateralism of Bush and be a diplomat to find solutions to many world problems. That is what some are scared of. Hillary is too desperate to be a president and go back to the white house and she is failing to convince people to vote for her. So her camp will use every tactic on the book.

Isn't there a possibility that someone in the Obama camp sent that e-mail to Drudge? Some of Obama followers are pretty radical. They tend to go off on their own tangent in an effort to get him nominated.

About 10 years ago, President Bill Clinton visited Ushafa village, in Central Nigeria, and was dressed in traditional Clothing. Why should the Clinton's be upset when Obama was dressed in such similar attires. Lets be more matured!

Personally I don't care if Obama wears a pink bikini. This whole muslim costume thing sounds like it is straight from the Repub playbook. As for the writer from Virgina who wants the Democrats to have a fair election, give me a break! I'm from Florida and know for certain that the 2000 election was stolen and possibly even the 2004 in the state of Ohio. The Diebold guy had promised that state to Bush several years before the election, and his company manufactures the touch screen voting machines used. Wake up, people.....

Drudge says 'unnamed' people in the Clinton Camp gave him the photo, and Obamaholics are automatically stupid enough to believe him and ratchet the slime-fest that's considered fair whenever anyone mentions HRC.

Mission Accomplished.

I like both Clinton and Obama (although Clinton's positions are more thought-out), but the Clinton-hating fringe in this country is positively pathological. Hell, even some ardent Obama supporters are starting to get embarrassed about it - as they should.

Besides, what's the big deal if he wore the costume? Everyone's got photo ops they regret.
Listening to some of the freaks on internet message boards, you'd think Hillary herself photoshopped the turban on him.

Smarten up fellow Democrats.

So many here are quick to "believe" Drudge's "unnamed" sources?
And blame this instantly on the Clinton campaign? Is that wishful thinking on the part of some?

Several sites have reported that a copy of that photo has apparently been on the web for a long time, on an African news site.

I looked for a more mischievous, well-timed copy of the photo and found one that was scanned on February 23 and posted to a proudly right-wing and very heavily-attended forum of activists, who are prone to mischief with online polls and other PR means. This was posted and commented on, at that popular conservative forum, two days before Drudge reported receiving an email about it.

For details on this, see

I'm impressed at the level of ignorance in these comments.

A) Obama is not regretful of being a good guest and accepting the honor as a foreign head of state.

B) Obama is upset that the photo is being USED to wrongly portray him as a closeted muslim and to fan flames of religious intolerance

C) Some of the ignorant comments here suggesting that he has explaining to do for the photo only reinforce the reality that the photo can be abused to push a false fear

D) The Clinton campaign is wrong for suggesting that this photo in not a foul when it's posted without explanation of it's actual circumstance and to suggest that it's a non-issue.

E) The Obama campaign knowing full well that this could wrongly be used to create religious suspicion would never have made this a public issue in order to 'gain sympathy'.

John McCain is a great American. Very, very experienced and smart.
This man survived 5 years in harsh captivity in Viet Nam. I don't think Hillary or Obama (or most people) would have. He tells the truth, and I trust him with the country. Also, I don't want Hillary or Obama telling me where to buy health care, or taking my hard-earned money for their big social programs. They promise everything to everybody (who will pay for it?, you got it: working Americans.) Taxing the rich at 55% will not pay for it. Let Americans work, 95% of them do, and lower their tax burden. No sitting down with terrorist nations (Obama) or raising my taxes (Hillary), I cannot afford it. We are defeating Al Qaida in Iraq. We are killing those who would like to kill as many Americans as possible. We are keeping the fight OFF American soil. (Remember 9/11?) Close the borders. John McCain for President.

Specific Techniques
The Training Manual employs a variety of techniques, some of which you may be more
comfortable with than others. Do not be afraid to try new techniques. There are many
different kinds of activities in the units including role-plays, games, brainstorming, small
group work, problem-solving scenarios, and presentations by guest speakers. Here is a
brief description of some of them.
VIPP VIPP means Visualization in Participatory Programmes. VIPP involves the use of
different shapes of coloured cards so that everything that is done individually and
collectively can be visualized, processed, synthesized and shared. VIPP encourages
everyone to participate and is based on well-founded theories of adult learning.
Lecturette A lecturette is a structured and orderly presentation of information delivered
by an individual (facilitator). A lecturette can be used to impart knowledge or introduce
skills. A lecturette which allows for an exchange between the facilitator and the
participants is usually more effective.
Discussions Discussions are a verbal exchange led by the facilitator or participants
about a specific topic or issue in a unit. Through this process, learners have a chance to
share facts and ideas and can listen to and consider different points of view.
Discussions are useful in both large and small groups. Small groups may offer shy or
less verbal learners more of an opportunity to speak. Discussions in the larger group
give the facilitator the ability to control the flow of conversation.
Role-plays Role-plays are short dramas in which learners can experience how someone
might feel in a situation, try out new skills, and learn from each other. Role playing in
small groups or pairs is usually less threatening for participants and allows more people
a chance to do it. Ask for volunteers, as many people are embarrassed or
uncomfortable to act in front of a large group. After the role-play, be sure to declare the
role-play over and ask questions about it.

What's da outcome...a black man in the white house.wajir a great town in north eastern kenya!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 25, 2008 10:29 AM.

Sweet column: Before Jewish group, Obama distances himself from Brzezinski; says Farrakhan fan Rev. Wright like an "old uncle." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Clinton raising the commander-in-chief ante. is the next entry in this blog.

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