No wonder Vogue editor Anna Wintour is hosting glittery events for Barack Obama.
Wintour, 62, reportedly wants an ambassadorship from Obama, possibly even the highly coveted one in London.
Wintour grew up in England, in the mod-happy swinging 60s, but moved to New York in the early 1970s. Her father was a British journalist and her mother an American philanthropist. Her younger brother is currently the political editor for The Guardian, which has reported on Wintour’s desire for the ambassadorship. (A trial balloon, perhaps?)
She is also a bundler for Obama, and on Thursday is hosting a dinner along with “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker for Obama, Michelle Obama, whom she has advised on fashion matters, and two lucky winners of a small-donor raffle for the president’s re-election campaign.
In the 2008 cycle, Wintour bundled between $100,000 to $200,000 for Democratic candidates. In 2011, she gave $5,000 to Barack Obama. And she has a long history of supporting Democratic candidates in her magazine, where she has put Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama on the cover.
Wintour came under fire last year when Vogue featured a glitzy profile on Syria’s controversial, but glamorous, first lady, Asma al-Assad. On Sunday, Wintour finally released a statement about the magazine’s coverage on the wife of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“Like many at that time, we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society,” the statement said. “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.”
It’s unclear if Wintour’s statement came as a result of White House pressure but certainly she is becoming a surrogate for the campaign as she appears in video ads and hosts more and more high profile fundraisers in a highly-charged election year.
In 2011, Wintour was listed as 69th on Forbes list of world’s most powerful women. “Her appearances in late night television, a full profile in ‘WSJ’ magazine and a highly publicized turn on the red carpet at the premiere of the final Harry Potter have fueled speculation about what's next for the most powerful woman in fashion,” her profile states on Forbes’s site.
Perhaps it really is an ambassadorship that Wintour craves. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. Remember Pamela Harriman?
Harriman was the British-born socialite who married Winston Churchill’s son. They divorced in 1945, but Harriman married two other times including Averill Harriman in 1971 — the same year she became a United States citizen. In that marriage, she became a player in Washington’s social circle and a player in the Democratic Party.
In 1993, Bill Clinton appointed Harriman as the ambassador to France and served in that position until her unexpected death in 1997. Clinton sent Air Force One to France to return her body to the United States and spoke at her funeral.
While ambassadors are sometimes career diplomats, many times they are well-known personalities who have helped the president raise money.
Shirley Temple Black has been active in the Republican Party since the 1960s. Subsequently, she held two ambassadorships. Gerald Ford appointed her as ambassador to Ghana in 1975 and George H.W. Bush appointed her as ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989. She was appointed the first female Chief of Protocol and was in charge of Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and inaugural ball.
The London posting is the most prestigious position in the United States Foreign Service.
George W. Bush appointed millionaire friends and loyal donors to the London ambassadorship. Currently, another mega Obama donor, Louis Susman, a retired vice-president of Citigroup, is holding court there.
But if she were appointed, would protocol require that she lose the trademark sunglasses?
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker