The Washington Post

Bloom is finally off the Rose in the Desert

Vogue acted after it was subjected to criticism for a piece it published last year on Mrs. Assad titled — naturally enough — “A Rose in the Desert.” The piece, done in a better time for Syria, started to fester and stink as more and more bodies were discovered. Finally, it was removed from the Vogue Web site, a Stalin-era air-brushing to make the whole thing go away. Somehow, though, it will not.

The writer of the piece was the talented and knowledgeable Joan Juliet Buck who was no doubt giving Vogue what she thought Vogue wanted. Mrs. Assad, she said in a masterful dig, was “extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.” Hear, hear.

This may have been the last straw for Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue since forever. In a statement about the article, she effectively broke off relations with Syria. “Like many at that time, we were hopeful that the Assad regime would be open to a more progressive society,” she told the New York Times. “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.” Thus Vogue joins the Obama administration in issuing strong, but ineffective, statements regarding Syria. Should Town and Country or, heaven forfend, People magazine join in, it will be curtains for Assad.

One can only hope.

Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post.


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