Speculation or a real possibility?
It seems unlikely. The reports, first of all, seem based on little more than speculation (though, as we mentioned, the Guardian does have an in with Wintour’s family). And while Wintour’s support of Obama has been quite public, so has that of several celebrities. “Anytime someone gets out front like that and becomes an integral fundraiser for a campaign you’re going to have some speculation about their end goal,” Donovan Slack, White House Reporter for Politico, told us. “In this case, however, President Obama has had so many similar people involved. If Anna is angling, does that mean that George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker are, too?”
While researching this story, we asked Sarah Wildman, a fellow at Johns Hopkins’ International Reporting Project who covers US politics for PBS and the BBC, if she thought Wintour might be up for political appointment, to which she initially replied, “Like an ambassadorship? Huh.” Of course, “Anything’s possible,” she added. “I think that if you’re Anna Wintour and you feel like over the course of the last quarter century you’ve made your mark in a huge way on the fashion world and you’re still ambitious, you still want to make your mark in various ways, what way would be more amazing than contributing to an historic presidency, which this still is in many, many ways.”
Plus, Wintour’s never really seemed interested in a career change. This isn’t the first time her public participation in the Obama campaign fueled speculation that she had political ambitions of her own, which she’s swiftly denied. Of her political involvement, she told the WSJ last year:
With all the new media outlets out there, with all the noise, a voice of authority and calm like Vogue becomes more important than ever. The more eyes on fashion, the more opinions about fashion, the more exploration of fashion around the world, the better it is for Vogue. Vogue is like Nike or Coca-Cola—this huge global brand. I want to enhance it, I want to protect it, and I want it to be part of the conversation.
While Wintour still seems committed to Vogue and her unofficial role as the leader of the fashion industry, who knows how far her professional ambitions go? We can’t help but recall the scene in The September Issue when, in a rare moment of vulnerability, she discusses her siblings (a brother who finds low-income housing in London, a sister who’s involved with farmers’-rights issues in Latin America and the Guardian‘s Patrick): “I think they’re very amused by what I do…They…They’re…amused.” Maybe she’s still seeking their approval? Or has doubts about choosing a more frivolous career path? Only time will tell.