Is the beleaguered nomination of John Bolton really about fashion–the suave blue state types versus red state frumps?
Inkwell noted last week that Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan had come dangerously close to challenging Bolton’s fitness for the job on sartorial and facial hair grounds.
Appalled by the bushy Bolton mustache–which looked “like it should be attached to geek glasses and a rubber nose”–Ms. Givhan suggested that Bolton’s bad haircut “bordered on rude” and that the general state of his toilette might signal disrespect for the job to which he was being proposed.
But now a critic with a name even more redolent of the world of high fashion has sashayed forward to state Mr. Bolton’s un-suitableness for the job–none other than Frederick Vreeland, the son of the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.
One shudders to think what the imperious Mrs. Vreeland, with her Mandarin taste for red and love of severe tailoring, would make of Mr. Bolton’s attire. Frederick Vreeland, who wrote a letter to Senator Joe Biden, one of the Democrats leading the attack on Bolton, doesn’t, of course, come out and say that what he can’t stand is Bolton’s haircut or inferior tailoring.
The Associated Press reported on Vreeland’s letter to Biden:
“A former colleague of John R. Bolton says President Bush’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations ’has none of the qualities needed for that job.’
“Bolton ’has all the qualities needed to harm the image and objectives in the U.N. and its affiliated international organizations. If it is now U.S. policy not to reform the U.N but to destroy it, Bolton is our man,’ Frederick Vreeland, a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, said in an e-mail to the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Vreeland, who worked with Bolton in the early 1990s under the first President Bush, said Bolton ’dealt with visitors to his office as if they were servants with whom he could be dismissive, curt and negative.’”
“’He spoke of the U.N. as being the enemy,’ Vreeland added….’It is totally erroneous to speak of Bolton as a diplomat.’”
This “extraordinarily bitter attack” made the folks at Powerline wonder just who Mr. Vreeland is and what his connection to Bolton might be. Since Bolton was Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs at the State Department from 1989-1993 (he was in a law firm most of the decade in question) and Vreeland was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia from February 1991 to February 1992, and the Ambassador to Morocco from 1992 to 1993. Powerline concludes that it’s “certainly possible that their paths could have crossed at the State Department” even though “their resumes don’t explain why Vreeland would have any particular familiarity with Bolton.”
“As to the first question–who is Frederick Vreeland?–Google is a little more revealing. Vreeland appears to be a virtual caricature of a career CIA and State Department official. He is rich, socially connected–his mother was the fashion icon Diana Vreeland–and liberal. Vreeland’s views on key foreign policy issues are typical of career State Department Democrats, which is to say, the precise opposite of the views held by the Bush administration and John Bolton.”
If you live in a blue state world, Vreeland’s views are also far more stylish than Bolton’s. Powerline has dredged up the information that after the terrorist bombings in Morocco in May 2003, Vreeland wrote his views for the International Herald Tribune. He did not blame the Islamofascist terrorists for the bombings:
“The irony is that these terrorist acts,” Vreeland wrote, “like the similar ones a few days earlier in Saudi Arabia, are collateral damage from the U.S. strategy designed to rid the world of terrorism. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, anti-terrorism has become a vital and valid national objective, but if it is pursued in a counterproductive manner, Americans could soon find themselves living in a perpetual state of red alert.”
Yes, these are fashionable ideas. People like Mr. Vreeland can’t abide the notion of somebody who holds Mr. Bolton’s tacky notions going to their beloved (but, oh, so corrupt) United Nations. Bolton wears all the wrong ideas. It’s really a matter of taste.