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No breaking away from Barack Obama's bicycle picture

June 10, 2008 | 12:07 pm

The debate is on: The widely circulated photograph of Barack Obama on a bicycle this last weekend either did the presidential candidate no favors, or actually helped his cause.

In an article in today's New York Daily News, writer David Saltonstall shows no mercy, declaring: "It wasn't a pretty picture: ill-fitting jeans, a tucked-in golf shirt, black-and-white socks and a helmet that could make Michael Dukakis blush."

A weekend in Chicago spent by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama included a bicycle ride with his family Yet in comments to Saltonstall, some Big Apple fashionistas cut Obama major slack. Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, says: "I like seeing my politicians in goofy weekend attire. It means they're thinking about more important stuff."

Newsweek's Andrew Romano notes today that when the shot of Obama on the bike as part of an excursion with his family in Chicago "hit the wires, the heavily trafficked right-wing message boards of Free Republic went wild."

Those postings, as you can imagine, weren't complimentary toward Obama (but several were creative).

Romano, though, argues that the "bike moment" will be a plus for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee because it "makes him look like a normal, nerdy American dad."Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts went wind surfing during his 2004 presidential campaign

Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan also sees a political upside for Obama, and in doing so she directly confronts the race issue. She writes: "It’s hard to get Willie Hortoned -- turned into the radical black guy who gives white America the heebie jeebies -- when you look as suburban, as unchic, as let’s-hop-in-the-Explorer-and-head-to-Costco wonky as Obama looks in this oh-no! photo."

The rest of her piece can be read here.

On one point, we think all can agree: As Obama took some time to relax along Lake Michigan, it's wise that, unlike Democrat John Kerry during the 2004 campaign, he avoided windsurfing.

-- Don Frederick

Top photo: Barack Obama rides a bicycle built for one over the weekend in Chicago. Credit: Associated Press

Bottom photo: Former presidential candidate John Kerry gives windsurfing a whirl during his push for the White House in 2004. Credit: Agence France-Presse

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