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Wintour Ambassadorship Rumors Build

As Michael Rubin wrote last week, President Obama’s potential nomination of top donor and Vogue editor Anna Wintour as ambassador to either the UK or France is problematic for a number of reasons. Jake Tapper examined one major reason–it would be the latest example of Obama’s broken 2008 promise to get rid of the political spoils system in Washington–in a video today (h/t HotAir):

Tapper writes

ABC News asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if it is important for a diplomat to be, well, diplomatic?

“We had one of the greatest diplomats of his generation pass away not long ago, Richard Holbrooke, and I think everyone who knew him or who sat across the table from him would agree that he was not by anyone’s traditional definition particularly diplomatic,” said Carney.

“So they come in all types and sizes and approaches.”

At the state department, a comparison of Wintour with the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke — a Vietnam War veteran, former assistant secretary of state, UN ambassador, and chief architect of the Bosnia peace accords — raised some eye brows.

No kidding. The practice of giving ambassadorships to top donors isn’t new, but it’s a sharp deviation from Obama’s vow to choose political appointments based on merit as opposed to fundraising ability. Obama has appointed donors to these positions in the past, but giving such a high-profile position to someone who is so obviously unqualified highlights how far he’s strayed from his 2008 “change” theme.

The Daily Mail reports that the news is already ruffling feathers in the UK:

British journalist Toby Young – who satirised his five-year stint in New York with Conde Nast, the magazine company that publishes Vogue, in the book and film How To Lose Friends And Alienate People – said: ‘She presides over the fashion business with the imperial hauteur of a Prussian general and expects instant, unquestioning obedience. 

‘It’s hard to imagine a personality less suited to the world of international diplomacy. She left school at 16 and has been working in fashion ever since. Obama’s chauffeur probably knows more about international relations than her. It’s like Caligula making his horse a senator.’

‘It’s hard to imagine a personality less suited to the world of international diplomacy. She left school at 16 and has been working in fashion ever since. Obama’s chauffeur probably knows more about international relations than her. It’s like Caligula making his horse a senator.’ 

One fashion editor in London said: ‘It’s incredible the most powerful nation on Earth should even consider appointing the least diplomatic woman on Earth as an envoy. She is joyless and intimidating.’ …

State Department insiders are at pains to say that, if appointed, Ms Wintour would be expected to concentrate on using her close relationship with President Obama to influence French president Francois Hollande. Her personal style, love of Parisian haute couture and elitist views about beauty and femininity are expected to go down well.

Appointing someone like Wintour diminishes the position of an ambassador, and it’s an insult to career diplomats who put themselves in great risk, like Chris Stevens–not to mention the fact that it’s an insult to whatever country she might be appointed as ambassador to.



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