With news today that the U.N. views Syria as in a full fledged civil war, it’s interesting to take a look back at Vogue magazine.
Why Vogue? It’s all so stylish editor, Anna Wintour, recently made a splash with a video asking the hoi polloi to cough up a few bucks for a chance to win dinner with her, Obama and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Wintour has taken herself out of the fashion pages and plopped down into politics with her whole hearted endorsement of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Many of us feel we don’t need a fashionista to inform us of our political situation. Particularly when not too long ago Ms. Wintour was feting the first lady of Syria. Keith Koffler at White House Insider blog remembers that Wintour “ran in her magazine a glowing March 2011 tribute to the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad. The profile provided a platform for her husband, the dictator Bashar Assad, to try to refurbish his image through a depiction of his wife as glamorous and compassionate.
“How bad could he be, after all, if he was married to such a wonderful woman?”
Koffler continues: “From the article, which earlier this year was scrubbed from Vogue’s website:
Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.
“Not only does the piece glorify Mrs. Assad, it suggests there’s an upside to the country’s repression:
Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary. The country’s alliances are murky. How close are they to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? There are souvenir Hezbollah ashtrays in the souk, and you can spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons. Its number-one enmity is clear: Israel. But that might not always be the case.
Yes, if I want to know about international politics, Vogue is where I go. As long as she’s not living in Syria, Ms. Wintour likes to talk about her understanding of it. Kind of like if she doesn’t live in Realville, USA, she can go ahead and tell us paeans to ignore our eyes and vote for four more years of this sinking economy.
I’ll bet her “oops” 2-3 years down the road is spoken sotto voce, but in a very fashionable manner.