Is Obama about to send the villainous inspiration behind “The Devil Wears Prada” to be our ambassador to Britain. Perhaps so — and why not?
The rumor is that Obama might nominate Anna Wintour — editor of Vogue — to a plum European ambassadorship. The undisputed empress of fashionistas and aging twattle peddler is, of course, a West Village gentry liberal — and a major Obama donor.
Wintour was a major contribution bundler for Obama. She hosted fundraisers for him in London and Paris. Last June, she had the “shabby chic” furniture swapped out of Sarah Jessica Parker’s townhome to co-host an $80,000-a-couple, “wine-soaked” affair for Obama and the DNC. The catwalk couturier reportedly raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election effort.
Wintour was the inspiration behind the fiendish character Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep in the 2006 movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” The movie was based on a book written by one of Wintour’s former assistants. Since Wintour took over Vogue in 1988, circulation has remained relatively stable at 1.2 million — but her purchase among the mavens of style has skyrocketed.
No one worth knowing has been able to verify if Wintour truly earns her unpleasant billing or is just reaping the inevitable criticism from being the mama grizzly of haute couture. Lady Gaga did call Wintour a “bitch” in a text message sent directly to the big cheese of fashion. However, Gaga meant it as one of her odd compliments.
Predictably, the uncouth masses and mouth-breathers who don’t have two summer homes in Long Island, as Wintour does, have poo-pooed the idea. Some wonder why we would send someone with no diplomatic experience to represent America to what historically has been our most important ally.
But I think it’s a good idea, because Wintour has a way with people.
When she found the neighbors of her newly restored 12-bedroom Bellport, N.Y., country home to be wanting, she used skills available only to the most-adept envoys to solve the problem: “I just import the people I want. I don’t mind the town. It’s white trash, of course, but I don’t care,” Wintour told an interviewer.
Prince Charles being a little too dull while glad-handing the diplomats accredited to the Court of St. James? Prince Harry already nuding up in the embassy pool? Just import some A-listers from Manhattan and ignore the snaggletooth frumpies. Remind me again why there are Englishmen at my party?
Besides, the Brits could use a little attitude adjustment, Wintour style. Obama didn’t have the bust of Winston Churchill chucked out of the Oval Office at 12:01 p.m. the day he took the oath because he liked them. The Saudi king got a bow from Obama so deep the president had to stretch and take a deep breath before the experience. Queen Elizabeth, not so much.
They can take it too. British Prime Minister David Cameron might be a conservative on paper, but he undoubtedly would have voted for Obama twice given the chance. Cameron so clearly longs for Obama’s companionship and luster, but it cannot be so. Cameron understands though. Unrequited love is as British as devilled kidneys. And who better than Wintour to explain that Obama has no peers. Unlike Number 10, there is only love for one at 1600.
True, there is the matter of Wintour publishing a hagiography of the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, titled “A Rose in the Desert.” And yes, Assad has since brutally fought his own people in a civil war that has cost 30,000 lives and counting, committing crimes against humanity. But the Assads have such panache! Nancy Pelosi and Jean-Francois Kerry saw it too. C’est magnifique!
And besides, it isn’t easy becoming the icon of elite fashion. Sometimes people get hurt.
Christian Whiton was a State Department senior adviser during the George W. Bush administration. Follow him on Twitter at @ChristianWhiton.