Bloomberg News is reporting that President Obama is considering Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and one of his top bundlers, for the coveted position of ambassador to the U.K. of France.
The 63-year-old fashionista has been with the magazine for more than two decades, and some speculated during the campaign that Wintour may be angling for an ambassadorship, based on the amount of effort she put in.
The Huffington Post reminds:
Wintour was one of Obama’s highest profile fundraisers this election cycle, helping design a fashion line that earned his campaign $40 million. She also hosted a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser with actress Sarah Jessica Parker in June, and a $35,000-a-plate fête with Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein in August.
And here’s a much-ridiculed campaign ad Wintour made on behalf of the president:
Bloomberg notes that while Obama has a history of picking “slightly” more ambassadors with little or no experience in the field than his predecessors (roughly 78% compared to the average 30%), Wintour apparently has diplomatic experience.
Susan Johnson, the president of the American Foreign Service Association, said that Wintour is “clearly an intelligent, energetic, capable, attractive, elegant person…but having experience in the practice of diplomacy and international relations is really a great advantage.”
Private sector international experience certainly counts for something, though it is obviously different than what Wintour would be doing as an ambassador. However, the Washington Times reminds that she made at least one serious error in judgement abroad.
Not long ago, Wintour’s magazine profiled Asma al-Assad (the wife of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad) as a “rose in the desert” in a Grace Kelly-meets-Middle Eastern chic piece.
The Washington Times’ Kerry Picket wrote about Vogue’s relationship with the Syrian dictators in June:
According to a New York Times article from Sunday, Vogue featured a February 2011 piece about the Assad regime’s relationship with the magazine. In fact, last spring, Vogue lovingly profiled Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad and titled the piece “A Rose in the Desert.” The magazine ran the article as the Syrian government slaughtered its people and described…the Assad household as “wildy democratic.”
Vogue Senior editor Chris Knutsen explained away the Assad article to The Atlantic in February of 2011 saying, “For our readers it’s a way of opening a window into this world a little bit.” However, according to the New York Times on Sunday, the Assad article has disappeared from its website (click here to read the Vogue piece on an alternative website). However, Ms. Wintour’s views on the Syrian regime changed suddenly as well. In a statement sent to the New York Times, Vogue wrote:
“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. The escalating atrocities in Syria are unconscionable and we deplore the actions of the Assad regime in the strongest possible terms.”
The author of the original Vogue Assad piece, Joan Juliet Buck, admitted, “she regretted the “Rose in the Desert” headline that Vogue put on the article,” but that “Mrs. Assad was ‘extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.” [Emphasis added]
Bloomberg’s two sources say that Wintour may have some competition, however, from Obama’s finance chairman Matthew Barzun and the managing partner and founder of Avenue Capital Management, Marc Lasry.
Though the White House declined to comment, Vogue spokeswoman Megan Salt denied Wintour’s interest in the position.
“She’s very happy with her current job,” she stated.