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Tuesday 23 September 2014

US DIARY ORLA HEALY

Published 09/12/2012 | 05:00

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The Brits aren't the only people taking umbrage at the escalating buzz, fired up last week by Bloomberg News, that Anna Wintour is close to being named to the post of US Ambassador to the Court of St James. Unlike the suits in the UK foreign service, who seem to feel matters of policy would be too much of a stretch for the most powerful woman in the fashion world, many New Yorkers feel Anna is owed a bigger, make that a much bigger, reward for her considerable ($500,000) fundraising efforts for the president's re-election campaign – not to mention the $40m fashion industry product initiative ('Runway To Win') she created for Team Obama.

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"When you are editor-in-chief of an extremely successful magazine, you don't need an ambassadorship for four years," designer Oscar De la Renta told WWD.com. "Ambassadors were great in the 18th century. Today, it's going to the opening of a cafeteria," he sniffed before suggesting a more palatable alternative. "She should be named Secretary of State," he declared. "That would be a different story." (Or, at the very least, a great follow-up to The Devil Wears Prada.)

A spokeswoman for Wintour, 63, delivered a suitably diplomatic response to requests for comment. "That's just a hypothetical question. What I know is she's very happy with her current job," Meagan Salt said in the kind of slick statement White House Press Secretary Jay Carney might want to emulate. Instead, Carney dealt with the issue of Obama's potentially unorthodox choice by refusing to "specifically address reports" about Wintour's candidacy or answer questions about whether the president has watched a certain Meryl Streep movie. Carney might, however, have given away more than he intended when he addressed a question about just how important it is for a diplomat to be diplomatic.

"We had one of the greatest diplomats of this generation pass away not long ago: Richard Holbrooke," Carney replied, before delivering what some see as a heavy hint. "I think everyone who knew him or sat across the table from him would agree that he was not by anyone's definition particularly diplomatic."

Now the only things going against Wintour landing the plum post is the surprise endorsement issued by Donald Trump, who tweeted: "I am happy to hear that Pres.Obama is considering giving Anna Wintour @voguemagazine an ambassadorship. She is a winner & really smart!" Sigh.

Hoffman bats for Hillary

You can count Dustin Hoffman among the 57 per cent of Americans who, according to a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll, say they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race – regardless of the fact that the outgoing Secretary of State says she hasn't decided what she wants to do when she leaves office next month.

When the actor was asked if he thought he would ever get the chance to star in a film alongside the soon-to-be footloose Mrs Clinton, he replied: "No, because I think she'll be in office." Asked if he has any reason to believe Hillary will run next time around, Hoffman just nodded and smiled.

David Remnick, editor of the venerable – and, usually, less than excitable – New Yorker magazine, was less enigmatic in his digital dispatch from last weekend's Saban Forum, concluding: "There wasn't much doubt about the ultimate direction. 2007-8 was but a memory and 2016 was within sight. She's running."

Remnick, who reported that Hillary's future plans were Topic A during the conference (speculation, he said, swung from whether she will "get a haircut; take a few weeks sleeping off jet lag at Canyon Ranch; read the polls and the political landscape; do good works; do good works for the good people of, say, Iowa–and so on,") is basing his weighty prediction on a six-minute video tribute to the outgoing SOS he described as "so reverential that it resembled the sort of film that the Central Committee of the Communist Party might have produced for Leonid Brezhnev's retirement party if Leonid Brezhnev would only have retired and the Soviets had been in possession of advanced video technology."

The short film, which features interviews with the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni includes a big kiss from Prez Obama (who, according to Remnick "kvelled at length: 'You've been at my side at some of the most important moments of my administration') as well as a smarmy-sounding nod from Tony Blair, who wrapped his segment with a knowing wink: "I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come."

Ashley eyes up senate contest

Activist-actress Ashley Judd is putting her money where her mouth is. Sources close to the 44-year-old Kentucky native have confirmed that she is laying the groundwork for a Senate campaign to challenge the state's powerful Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014.

According to Politico.com, Judd (viewed by some Democrats as a party-energising cash cow vs others who see her as a dilettante liberal) has sought advice from NY-D Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about the possibility of a run. She has also hired a pollster and started opposition research on herself. "She is doing all the things that a serious candidate exploring a race should do," Rep John Yarmuth (D-Ky) told the news-site after speaking with her. "I think there are a lot of people, and I was one of them, who wanted to let her know that her candidacy would be an exciting prospect for us."

There are also, it seems, a lot of people prepared to wage war on anyone who dares go up against McConnell.

"It's going to sting," Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, vowed in a blanket warning to potential rivals. "We're going to make sure that you don't come out with your nose clean. We're going to drive your negatives up and very aggressively and publicly litigate your record before the citizens of Kentucky." McConnell & Co might not realise how tough-skinned this Hollywood beauty actually is. As one observer noted, referencing a recent cyber-flap about Judd's weight-gain: "What male politician ever got a memo noting that, since going up one dress size, she looked like a 'cow' and a 'pig' who 'better watch out' because her husband 'is looking for his second wife?'"

Michelle v Bill at Grammys

The White House may be keeping the results of last Sunday's golf game between President Obama and former President Clinton quieter than a state secret, but there will be no hiding the outcome of the next round of Obama vs Clinton. On Wednesday night the First Lady received her debut Grammy nomination for the audio version of American Grown (a story about the White House garden which, naturally, also makes a case for her healthy living cause) while former prez Bill earned a nod in the same category for his narration of the self-explanatory Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government For A Strong Economy. For those keeping score, Mr Clinton won a Grammy in 2005 for My Life while President Obama has two Grammy statuettes (for Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope) on his mantle. Both parties, however, can take pleasure in the fact that they bested big names such as Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and One Direction, all of whom were snubbed by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences this year.

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