I admit, I haven’t paid much attention to the controversy over reports that Barack Obama might appoint Vogue editor Anna Wintour as US Ambassador to the UK or France. The primary qualification for ambassadorial posts in the US has traditionally been having enough checks in your checkbook and those of your friends. Regardless of whether a President has been Republican or Democrat, these posts have always been a payoff for deep-pocketed political support, and the heavy lifting of actual diplomacy has always fallen to careerists at State.
Still, one would think that having some sense of personal diplomacy might matter, especially for more important assignments like the Court of St. James. Wintour’s reputation as the antithesis of diplomat in her business and personal dealings has grown to legendary status, and was reportedly watered down a bit for the novel and film The Devil Wears Prada. The disconnect between the concepts of “diplomacy” and Anna “Nuclear” Wintour is so wide that Jake Tapper felt compelled to ask Jay Carney yesterday about the President’s cinematic habits:
In light of recent rumors that the administration is considering Anna Wintour for a diplomatic position, ABC White House reporter Jake Tapper has a very serious question for President Obama: Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada? …
Carney’s initial response was that he will “not engage in speculation about possible personnel announcements,” but that president is looking for “talent, wisdom and character in his appointees.”
Tapper than asked if it’s “important for a diplomat to be diplomatic.” Carney continued to avoid direct answers for another minute or so until Tapper popped the Devil Wears Prada question, eliciting laughter but no answer from Carney.
Wintour’s diplomacy was successful where it counted — on the campaign trail. Given her extensive work in the fashion industry and her familiarity with France, she might be a good fit for the post there … and I’ll let readers add their thoughts on the justice of that choice in the comments section.
Update: I changed “read” to “seen” in the headline to match Tapper’s question.