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Right Turn
Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 06/11/2012

As Syria burns, the morally obtuse dine in high style

In April I wrote about the liberal elites' appalling fawning over Bashar al-Assad and his wife. The worst example of journalistic duplicity was a several-thousand-word piece of pro-Assad PR churned out by Vogue magazine.

Sunday’s New York Times lowered the boom on page one:

Magazines and online outlets have published complimentary features about the family, often focusing on fashion and celebrity. 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.
Fawning treatment of world leaders — particularly attractive Western-educated ones — is nothing new. But the Assads have been especially determined to burnish their image, and hired experts to do so. The family paid the Washington public relations firm Brown Lloyd James $5,000 a month to act as a liaison between Vogue and the first lady, according to the firm.

What does Vogue’s chief — the doyenne of fashion and the much-lampooned fundraiser for Obama — have to say? “This spring, the magazine removed the article from its Web site. On Sunday, Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, issued a statement about the article saying, in part: ‘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.’ ”

She is right that many other liberals were equally dense about Assad’s evilness, but you’d think she’d, you know, apologize for helping to flack for a mass murderer whose human rights abuses were well know before the current killing spree. But being liberal, rich and famous means never having to say you are sorry. Instead you get to fete the president.

Obama will be rubbing elbows with Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker this week. I don’t suppose Assad will come up. The limousines (angst over carbon foot prints is for the little people) will roll up, the exquisite cuisine will be served by troops of servants, and the partyers will end up feeling self-satisfied that they are doing something important.

What is worse than the galling sanctimony is that Wintour’s name is now popping up for a potential ambassadorship. Well, in a way that would be perfect. A morally obtuse woman with no substantive foreign policy expertise to serve a morally obtuse president. . . .Well, you get the idea.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 06/11/2012

 
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