What Not to Wear: Presidential Edition

While getting my hair done at the salon, I was entertained with my iPad and this recent headline on The Blaze: "'Morning Joe' panelist actually asks if we can 'trust" Mitt Romney if he 'colors his hair.'"

The guest panelist for MSNBC, Donnie Deutsch, asked: "Do you want a president of the United States who colors his hair?" and further declared: "I think if the average American thought a man was coloring his hair, he would lose trust in him."

The idea that hair dye and trustworthiness were related left me more breathless than the ammonia odors wafting around the salon.  I suspiciously eyed my neighbors in the chairs around me -- does she or doesn't she?  Who knew that the old Clairol slogan needed a qualifier (according to Deutsch): "only his/her hairdresser knows for sure...whether he/she is trustworthy." 

Deutsch was indignant that "we never ask that question[.]  Why does nobody ask that question?"  Maybe some of the JournoLists who sifted through Sarah Palin's trashcans should look for some empty dye bottles in Romney's garbage bins or interview some of his past barbers for a scoop that would rock the election.  Or not.

And then I tapped the link to the blog of one of my most trusted syndicated columnists, the wise and brave Diana West, to find her asking this fashion question, the same day: "[A]sk yourself what's more dangerous to the republic: a) that the first new president after 9/11 wears the Shahada on his ring finger; or b) that the media won't ask why."

West was referring to a ring worn by Obama, apparently regularly (at least since his college days at Occidental) on his left ring finger.  The same ring, it appears, he also received in his marriage ceremony to Michelle.  It's an unusual ring that bears the inscription of the first part of the Islamic Shahada, according to a story by WND citing experts who examined close-up photographs.

The Shahada, the first of the five pillars of Islam, is the proclamation of Islamic faith.  The public recitation of the Shahada, which begins with "There is no God but Allah," is what formally makes one a Muslim.

Why a Christian president of the United States would wear such a ring every day for the past thirty or so years should be the "trustworthiness" fashion question of this election season.  West observed that "the media -- mainstream, downstream, up the stream with no paddle -- WILL NOT REPORT THIS FACT.  That would require them to ask the president a question they don't want to ask, namely: Why?"

Back in 2009, in an article about the Obama's marriage, The New York Times' Jodi Cantor noted that Obama's wedding band was an "intricate gold design from Indonesia," but not the peculiar fact that he had apparently been wearing it, on the same finger, for several years before the wedding.  It is especially interesting to recall that it was Cantor who in 2007 had written another article about Obama's Harvard Law Review days.  In that piece, Cantor quoted from the Review's 1990 mock profile of Obama and also included a 1990 photo of Obama that clearly showed him wearing an intricate gold band on his left ring finger.  However, Cantor neglected to mention that the profile listed "deflecting persistent questioning about ring on left hand" as one of Obama's "accomplishments," just as she neglected to note, two years later, that she had read about and seen this ring (or one very similar to it) before.

Could the ring be simply a family heirloom or treasured souvenir without other symbolic meaning?  Why the reluctance on Obama's part to explain it, or on the media's to question it?

Obama's former girlfriend noted that he was fond of lounging around the apartment in sarongs.  Perhaps Obama felt the Indonesian ring coordinated with the ensemble.  Or might Obama sport such a ring to appear foreign, or worldly and fashionable?  If the ring truly does bear the traditional Islamic inscription, it is doubtful that Obama would not be aware of that fact.  Recall that in 2007, Nicholas Kristof, in his article, "Obama: Man of the World," mentioned Obama's study of the Koran while growing up in Indonesia and his recitation of the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer "with a first-rate accent."

Perhaps the band is merely a "Man of the World" fashion accessory to go along with perfectly pleated pants and suave pronunciation of  "Pahkeestahn" and "Tahleebahn," Muslim greetings in speeches, or interesting descriptors when discussing aspects of Islam, such as "revealed" and "the holy."

Back in 2007, when there was a flap over the (ultimately temporary) absence of Obama's flag pin, Allahpundit wrote that Obama's "too principled" stance of not wearing it rendered the blank space on his lapel as much of a "fashion accessory" as Obama seemed to regard the pin itself.

But Romney's flag pin was bigger than Obama's (!), noted a Huffington Post panel that awarded "style points" for the contenders after the first presidential debate.  The panel proclaimed Romney's tie more fashionable than Obama's dimple-knotted selection.  No panelist noticed, however, that Obama's wedding ring was more than a little odd.  Why weren't reporters whispering, à la Clairol, "Is he or isn't he?"  Or: "Is that just an unusual swirl on your wedding ring...or are you a Muslim?"

The mainstream media have yet to explore this WND revelation.  Some commenters insist that the marks on the ring are nothing more than decorative squiggles.  Similar-looking swirled markings on ice cream lids distributed by Burger King stirred up quite a controversy in 2005 in the U.K.  In this interview, the offended Muslim stated:

The fear of God, the love of God, the love of not letting anyone disrespect God. Even though it means nothing to some people and may mean nothing to some Muslims in this country, this is my jihad. I'm not going to rest until I find the person who is responsible. I'm going to bring this country down.

Wow.  Burger King formally apologized, recalled the product, and redesigned the lid.  One can only wonder if similar swiggles on an American president's ring could ignite as volatile a reaction as a chocolate ice cream fast-food container.  Let's hope not.  Recall that it was Obama himself who recently said: "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."  So...does he or doesn't he?  Is Obama intentionally wearing a Shahada ring, or is he perhaps unintentionally offending Muslims?

The Blaze, while still including corroboration of WND's claims with an unnamed Duke professor, appeared to bend over as far backwards (to write off the ring as inconsequential) as Obama bent forward to bow before the Saudi King.  The Blaze article included quotations from another "expert" who said "So what?" and "that would mean is the president is a monotheist" and that "Obama may actually be making a Christian proposition and exhibiting his personal faith in Christ by wearing the ring."  But the article neglected to mention Obama's own claims that he did not become a Christian until the early '90s.  And why a "Christian proposition" would be inscribed in Arabic and in the same wording as the Shahada was not discussed.

Our conventional media seems more concerned with Romney's potential use of hair dye than a potentially significant oddity in Obama's fashion attire that may be directly related to his trustworthiness.  Nor will the media explore whether we should trust Hillary Clinton's lovely and fashionable aide, Huma Abedin, with her multiple ties to the Muslim Brotherhood -- another topic courageously explored by West.

West noted that the answers to either of those questions may be especially troubling, and the even more alarming fact that our own "free" press, willfully and in coordinated unison, neglects to ask them.

West is right.  More than fashion faux pas bells should be ringing.

The Blaze summarized: "So, it seems the situation is a complicated one. Regardless of where one stands, learning the true history behind the ring and the president's reasoning for continuing to wear it would be a fascinating feat." 

Indeed.  Back in the day, such investigative journalism would have been business as usual.  Today, it will likely never happen.  Our nation's security has been compromised -- not only by the possibly frightening answers to questions that need to be asked, but by the reluctance and refusal to ask them in the first place.

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