Commentary Magazine


Topic: Anna Wintour

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

Read More

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.

Read Less

Wintour Ambassadorial Nomination Would Not Be Vogue

Rumor has it that President Obama is considering Vogue editor Anna Wintour to be his second-term nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. After World War II, well-known public figures and intellectuals such as W. Averell Harriman, Walter Annenberg, and Kingman Brewster, Jr., have held the post. In recent decades, however, presidents have transformed the top slot into a plumb reward for top donors. Leading the London Embassy has become more about style than diplomacy. George W. Bush, for example, chose Robert Tuttle, who had raised more than $200,000 for the president. For his first term, Obama chose Louis Susman, a top fundraiser.

Wintour may be pushing pay-for-position rewards a bit too far. The problem isn’t her fundraising, but rather her judgment. Syria remains a top foreign policy concern for the United States and, should Bashar al-Assad’s forces use chemical weapons, it could be the source of the 3 a.m. phone call Obama fears most. As editor of Vogue, however, Wintour published the infamous and groveling profile of Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s wife. She defended the piece for months, even as Assad’s forces committed the most grizzly abuses against Syrian men, women, and children, refusing to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. In recent months, Wintour sought to distance herself from the profile, and removed it from the Internet.

Read More

Rumor has it that President Obama is considering Vogue editor Anna Wintour to be his second-term nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. After World War II, well-known public figures and intellectuals such as W. Averell Harriman, Walter Annenberg, and Kingman Brewster, Jr., have held the post. In recent decades, however, presidents have transformed the top slot into a plumb reward for top donors. Leading the London Embassy has become more about style than diplomacy. George W. Bush, for example, chose Robert Tuttle, who had raised more than $200,000 for the president. For his first term, Obama chose Louis Susman, a top fundraiser.

Wintour may be pushing pay-for-position rewards a bit too far. The problem isn’t her fundraising, but rather her judgment. Syria remains a top foreign policy concern for the United States and, should Bashar al-Assad’s forces use chemical weapons, it could be the source of the 3 a.m. phone call Obama fears most. As editor of Vogue, however, Wintour published the infamous and groveling profile of Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s wife. She defended the piece for months, even as Assad’s forces committed the most grizzly abuses against Syrian men, women, and children, refusing to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. In recent months, Wintour sought to distance herself from the profile, and removed it from the Internet.

Dictatorships should never be chic. Judgment matters. Wintour lacks it, and if Obama nominates her for any post, he will signal to Syrian dissidents and those suffering under dictatorships the world over that the United States does not take their plight seriously.

Read Less

Obama’s Tone-Deaf Fundraiser

After Obama’s attempt to reassure the public about the economic recovery fell flat Thursday, he jetted off to a celebrity fundraiser in Manhattan hosted by Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker — and the contrast could not have been more tone-deaf. As AP reports, Obama seemed to temporarily abandon his middle class warrior routine, telling the $40,000-a-plate dinner guests that they were the “ultimate arbiter” of the country’s future:

Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation’s future.

“You’re the tie-breaker,” he said. “You’re the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes.”

Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama’s remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent.

As a gesture of egalitarianism, there was one non-paying, no-name guest who had won a $3 Obama campaign raffle and was able to attend the fundraiser as a “prize” (how benevolent of the campaign).

The celebrity hostesses also reportedly promoted the Obama campaign’s Runway to Win line, a collection of t-shirts and tote bags “designed” by celebrities and fashion designers and sold on Obama’s campaign site. The products are as awful as you can imagine. Would Anna Wintour ever let her skin touch this monstrosity designed by Beyonce? Or this mess (allegedly) designed by Prabal Gurung? Unlikely. But for $45-and-up, brand-obsessed Obama fans can look like they just bought a t-shirt sewn by a Chinese child laborer from the back of an unlicensed D.C. souvenir truck.

Read More

After Obama’s attempt to reassure the public about the economic recovery fell flat Thursday, he jetted off to a celebrity fundraiser in Manhattan hosted by Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker — and the contrast could not have been more tone-deaf. As AP reports, Obama seemed to temporarily abandon his middle class warrior routine, telling the $40,000-a-plate dinner guests that they were the “ultimate arbiter” of the country’s future:

Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation’s future.

“You’re the tie-breaker,” he said. “You’re the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes.”

Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama’s remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent.

As a gesture of egalitarianism, there was one non-paying, no-name guest who had won a $3 Obama campaign raffle and was able to attend the fundraiser as a “prize” (how benevolent of the campaign).

The celebrity hostesses also reportedly promoted the Obama campaign’s Runway to Win line, a collection of t-shirts and tote bags “designed” by celebrities and fashion designers and sold on Obama’s campaign site. The products are as awful as you can imagine. Would Anna Wintour ever let her skin touch this monstrosity designed by Beyonce? Or this mess (allegedly) designed by Prabal Gurung? Unlikely. But for $45-and-up, brand-obsessed Obama fans can look like they just bought a t-shirt sewn by a Chinese child laborer from the back of an unlicensed D.C. souvenir truck.

It’s hard to be too harsh on Obama about the dinner. He’s a politician, and they all have to fundraise. But this particular dinner was so ostentatious — from the guest list, to the ticket price, to the advertising campaign — that it likely grated on the public’s nerves in a way that typical fundraisers don’t. Obama’s own star power has faded significantly since 2008, and it made the dinner party seem sadder and tackier than it would have four years ago — like a middle-aged person trying just a little too hard to hold onto his youth.

Read Less

Assads Were “in Vogue”

The New York Times has an amusing article today about how Bashar al-Assad, and his well-dressed wife, Asma, tried to buff their reputation in the West with the help of avaricious public affairs consultants and credulous journalists. As the article notes: “In March 2011, just as Mr. Assad and his security forces initiated a brutal crackdown on political opponents that has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 Syrians, Vogue magazine ran a flattering profile of the first lady, describing her as walking ‘a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles,’ a reference to her Christian Louboutin heels.”

The author of that embarrassing Vogue article, Joan Juliet Buck, explained that Mrs. Assad was “extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.” Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, apparently no longer thinks that article was such a hot idea. She has taken it off Vogue’s web site and explained to the Times: “Like many at that time, we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society. Subsequent to our interview, as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that its priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue.”

It’s good to hear that mass murder, even when overseen by the expensively attired and perfectly coifed,  is “at odds” with Vogue’s “values,” whatever those might be. But only someone so intensely focused on her Manolo Blahniks as Wintour could possibly have missed the copious signs that the junior Assad, like his odious old man, was not exactly a paragon of virtue even before the start of last year’s uprising–indeed the whole reason the uprising started was because of the harshness of his rule.

Read More

The New York Times has an amusing article today about how Bashar al-Assad, and his well-dressed wife, Asma, tried to buff their reputation in the West with the help of avaricious public affairs consultants and credulous journalists. As the article notes: “In March 2011, just as Mr. Assad and his security forces initiated a brutal crackdown on political opponents that has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 Syrians, Vogue magazine ran a flattering profile of the first lady, describing her as walking ‘a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles,’ a reference to her Christian Louboutin heels.”

The author of that embarrassing Vogue article, Joan Juliet Buck, explained that Mrs. Assad was “extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.” Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, apparently no longer thinks that article was such a hot idea. She has taken it off Vogue’s web site and explained to the Times: “Like many at that time, we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society. Subsequent to our interview, as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that its priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue.”

It’s good to hear that mass murder, even when overseen by the expensively attired and perfectly coifed,  is “at odds” with Vogue’s “values,” whatever those might be. But only someone so intensely focused on her Manolo Blahniks as Wintour could possibly have missed the copious signs that the junior Assad, like his odious old man, was not exactly a paragon of virtue even before the start of last year’s uprising–indeed the whole reason the uprising started was because of the harshness of his rule.

The most dismaying thing about this whole sorry episode is how common it is. If only Assad were the first dictator to receive the red-carpet treatment from the New York-Los Angeles A list. But he’s not. It is hard to top the many hosannas tossed at Fidel Castro, for one, stretching all the way back to Herbert Matthews of the New York Times, who notoriously aided his quest for power in the late 1950s by describing him in a series of articles as an FDR-like figure striving for a “new deal for Cuba” that was “radical, democratic and therefore anti-Communist.” By that point Matthews was following in the already well-worn footsteps of John Reed (who lionized Lenin) and Edgar Snow (who did the same for Mao). While writing a history of guerrilla warfare, I had cause to re-read the descriptions of Mao from Snow and other starry-eyed Westerners, and it is even more outlandish than the nonsense recently penned about Bashar Assad. Snow actually suggested that Mao–who would go on to become the worst mass murderer in history and had already, by the late 1930s, revealed his dictatorial and murderous streak–was a “Lincolnesque figure” who was “a moderating influence in the Communist movement where life and death were concerned.” Similar praise has rung in the ears of Ho Chi Minh, Josip Broz Tito, Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, and countless other despots.

What is it in the Western psyche that compels so many of the seemingly well-educated and liberally-minded to heap so much effusive praise on Third World rogues and murderers? I have no idea, but whatever it is, it is a strong urge, and one that, alas, will not end even with the retraction of a few fawning profiles of Bashar Assad.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.