Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ambassador Anna?

Anna Wintour (center) with Daphne Guinness (left) and Karl Lagerfeld (right). Photo via CoolSpotters
I am following the Ambassador Anna rumor-madness very closely and with great interest. Despite the fact that I do not like the idea of anyone being rewarded for their monetary contributions with political assignments, I am still aware that doesn't make political assignments any less real. So here we are, looking at one of President Obama's biggest fundraisers (bundlers) and discussing the possibility of the ultimate reward.

The reasons why Ms. Wintour is being considered go beyond her well documented monetary contributions to the campaign. After all, given the cost of political campaigning these days, we know that MANY people have given A LOT of money. What sets her apart is that she is one of the most powerful figures in a billion-dollar industry and has tremendous connection to the fashion, cultural and business elite in both France and the UK, the two potential assignments that have been discussed most widely. Also, she was born in the UK and comes from a family of serious political reporters. Her father was the EIC of The Evening Standard and her brother is the current political editor of The Guardian. Not that THAT makes HER qualified but it does demonstrate a dimension of her social connections that usually get downplayed or ignored in her role as a fashion magazine editor.

Before you get too outraged at the frivolity of the idea, you should remember that the United States have a long tradition of merging entertainment and politics both directly and indirectly. President Raegan and Governor Schwarzenegger are only the most obvious examples. As I was chatting about this on Facebook, one of my graduate school professors reminded me of Shirley Temple who apparently got into politics the same way Wintour did: as a fundraiser but for the Republican party in California. She had a long political career which included a position as US Ambassador in Prague that had been the culmination of a diverse set of important positions.  Prague was her second ambassadorship (after a two-year term in Ghana) and she had been chief American delegate in the UN General Assembly. 

I asked the former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria (very pro-American, pro-NATO) what he thought of the possibility of Anna Wintour as US ambassador to the UK and he said: "US Ambassador in UK - political appointment: not surprising!" I then asked the former US ambassador to Bulgaria the very same question. His answer: "Count on nice shoes!"

What do you think?

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