The intersecting sliver of the “Tea Party”-“Vogue” Venn diagram would seem to be a razor-thin one, but the latest politician to receive characteristic puff-piece treatment from the fashion magazine is Tea Party darling (circa 2010)-turned-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is described in those glossy pages as “fit and attractive, with a face free of worry lines.”
The profile, titled “New Horizons,” happens to coincide with the release of Haley’s memoir, which itself coincides with—ah, yes—the start of the Veepstakes. (The Kicker hopes this lucky timing turns out better for Vogue than when it released its glowing profile of Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad right before the regime began a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. Vogue unpublished the piece and still refuses to discuss it.)
Nikki Haley’s own reputation—as a conservative, small-government stalwart—went out the window when she endorsed that Massachusetts moderate, Mitt Romney. South Carolina Tea Partiers might argue she turned in her tea bag long before that, and she probably won’t win back skeptics with the Vogue spread. She’s photographed looking sharp in sumptuous surroundings, which is enough to stir any fashion-conscious conservative’s memories of that Sarah Palin-for-Veep, Nieman Marcus shopping spree.
Nor has the magazine’s high-fashion, airbrushed touch exactly turned its recent subjects into political gold: besides al-Assad, Haley follows in the footsteps of Jon Huntsman, the lamest pony in the Republican horse race.
Careful readers will notice the Vogue story makes an allusion to ‘Sic Willie,’ the South Carolina blogger we profiled in January.Erika Fry is a former assistant editor at CJR.