Kerry Picket at the Wash Times notes that the lucky winner of a much-derided opportunity to dine with President Barack Obama, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, and Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour has a ready-made conversation starter: What was up with Vogue's fawning profile of Asma al-Assad, the wife of murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad? Back in 2011, just as the latest cycle of state-sponsored violence was getting into full swing, Vogue profiled Asma as "Syria's Desert Rose."
The article, which I critiqued in "The Real Housewives of Arab Thugocracies," is full of grotesque, unintentend humor, such as the moment when Mrs. al-Assad explains away an ugly lamp in the tyrant's palace:
The household is run on wildly democratic principles. "We all vote on what we want, and where," [Asma] says. The chandelier over the dining table is made of cut-up comic books. "They [our kids] outvoted us three to two on that."
Ha, ha, ha.
The author of the original Vogue Assad piece, Joan Juliet Buck, admitted, "she regretted the "Rose in the Desert" headline that Vogue put on the article," but that "Mrs. Assad was 'extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.'"
You got that? Fat, dumpy wives of dictators need not apply. Wintour disowned the piece, claiming that she apparently had no idea that Syria, in which the Assad family has ruled for decades and which has been rated as "Not Free" by Freedom House for years. Wintour sent a statement to the NY Times, which said in part:
"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."
OK, so Wintour didn't realize that Syria has been mopping the lower reaches of any and all indices of freedom for decades. But here are some questions for dinner, which costs $80,000 a plate: 1. Are you seriously angling for an ambassadorship to Great Britain? Because if it took you until 2011 to realize Syria's "priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue," you haven't read a newspaper in about 40 years. Or Vogue was until last year a murderous regime. 2. Let's assume the story was just one of those hilarious goof-ups that happen all the time in glittering world of high fashion. Why the hell would you have disappeared the offending piece off your magazine's website, so that readers have to go here to find it? Editorial mistakes aren't the end of the world, Amb. Wintour. They come with the territory. But coverups are just total bullshit, especially in a world with the internet. You may well be uninformed enough to be a diplomat, but you better bring your A game when it comes to lying about indefensible screwups.
Here's the Wintour invite to enter the sweepstakes for the free dinner with the prez and his special hosts. Not to be taken internally, though best taken on an empty stomach.