Are Benghazi Survivors Hiding In A Washington, D.C. Hospital?
Richard Miniter, Contributor 3/25/2013 @ 8:00AM
For more than six months since the September 11, 2012 attacks on America’s diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, the Obama administration has been unwilling to turn over the names or whereabouts of any survivors. They may be hiding plain sight.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has learned that “as many as seven Americans have been or are currently being treated,” at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.—less than 11 miles from the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Wolf cited two independent confidential sources for his information.
And the number of survivors may be even larger than previously suspected. There may be more than 30 survivors, including State Department and CIA personnel as well as government contractors, according to a March 1, 2013 letter sent by Rep. Wolf and Rep. Jim Gerlach to Secretary of State John Kerry . As for those government contractors mentioned, they are believed to include former U.S Navy Seals and other former special-forces operators.
And it seems that the survivors have been told not to talk. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been in touch with the family members of Benghazi survivors, has said that the survivors have been “told to be quiet” by Obama administration officials. “The public needs to hear from people who were on the ground, their desperate situation. They need to understand from people who were there for months how bad it was getting and how frustrated they were that nobody would listen to them and provide aid.”
Responding to Sen. Lindsay‘s remarks, a White House spokesman denied that survivors or their families were told not to talk. He provided no information on when the survivors would be made available to congressional investigators or made available to the press.
Why are the survivors so important? As eyewitnesses, they are uniquely placed to tell the public about the deadliest attack on a State Department facility since the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, which claimed the lives of 224 people, including 12 Americans. The 2012 Benghazi attack also marks the first time since 1979 that a U.S. ambassador has been killed, when Iran-backed Islamist extremists killed the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
The survivors could tell Congress, and the public, important new details. Libyan reports indicate that there were upwards of 100 attackers in Benghazi, that they were organized into machine-gun fire teams and mortar crews, and appeared to take orders from men wearing Afghan-style clothing. So far the Obama administration has provided few details about the attackers, their organization or their motivation.
Why does this matter? If these reports from Libyan sources are true, then the attack was a major al Qaeda operation. Indeed, the largest that the terror network has mounted outside the Afghan-Pakistan region in more than a decade. In short, an act of war — not a peaceful demonstration that went awry, as the Obama Administration initially said. This has led activists, bloggers and other critics of the president to ask: Did the president ignore an act of war in order to win the 2012 election?
If this suspicion is wrong, the survivors are uniquely placed to dispel this poisonous notion.
If, on the other hand, the attack was an act of war, then the President has a real responsibility to hunt down the enemy and bring them to justice. To date, none of the attackers have been killed or captured.
Indeed, the official investigation is moving with remarkable slowness. The FBI was granted a single 3-hour interview with one “person of interest” in Libya, according to Congressman Wolf. That same individual was interviewed by a New York Times correspondent weeks before the FBI got to him. It took the FBI weeks to visit the building complex where U.S. Ambassador Stevens died, when any evidence would have long since been spoiled. By contrast, local reporters were inside the complex walls within 24 hours of the deadly attack.
Nor have any State department or intelligence personnel been fired, demoted or transferred, although three State department officials did resign. “Six months later not a single American official has been held accountable or lost their job over the inadequate consulate security, intelligence failures, or the administration’s abysmal response during the terrorist attack,” Rep. Wolf said. What Wolf is saying is that no official appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate has been disciplined for the Benghazi atrocities, despite ample warnings in the spring and summer of 2012.
Wolf is calling for a “special select committee” to investigate the tragic events in Benghazi. President Obama should head off Rep. Wolf by making the Benghazi eyewitnesses available to Congress and the press as soon as possible–before a full-scale investigation consumes his second term and tarnishes his legacy.
This article is available online at:
Dennis Miller Time – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz / Controversial Ford Ad – Bill O’Reilly – 3-27-13
DENNIS MILLER: “Debbie Wasserman Schultz, what a waste of a hyphen. This empty-headed addled perm-mannequin. We have soldiers calling into my show telling me that they’re getting their tuition that they were promised cut when they get back from war, and this jerk is whining about some butt-kissing staffer of her not being able to afford a Yoplait with their baloney on white. This stuff has got to stop. Rise up, America! Rise up!”
Rise up, indeed! Is this who you want representing you in Congress or anywhere for that matter? YIKES! Maybe her “underfed” (wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) staffers should work at a food kitchen to see people who genuinely have difficulty finding high quality meals and rely on the generosity of churches and private citizens for care. Heed Miller’s advice, “Rise up, America! Rise up!”.
ss = s2 = stylish satirist
Sen. Graham: Benghazi Survivors ‘Told to Be Quiet’ | CNS News
CNSNews.com was launched on June 16, 1998 as a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that’s ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission.
At least no one lost their life during Watergate and there was only one story — a political scandal due to a burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex and the subsequent cover-up by the Nixon White House. UNLIKE Benghazi with multiple murders and stories (or “narratives” if you are too hip you cannot bring yourself to use the tried and true word STORY) including a video, a State Department failure, an intelligence failure, a Republican political witch-hunt, not a preplanned attack on 9/11, etc., etc.
Let’s face it this was an Obama administration failure and cover-up of colossal proportion where four Americans died and no one is jailed (except for the blamed video’s filmmaker) or held accountable PARTICULARLY in our government which is why it DOES matter, Hillary.
ss = s2 = stylish satirist
Mike & Friends Blog
Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author
(Oh and don’t forget a pandering, self-promoting sleaze merchant trying to drum up attention for his fading career. Yeah and then some! Thought I’d punctuate Moore’s rant with Weegee crime photos. This may give you an idea of his unbelievable urging… ss = s2 = stylish satirist )
March 13th, 2013 4:50 AM
The year was 1955. Emmett Till was a young African American boy from Chicago visiting relatives in Mississippi. One day Emmett was seen “flirting” with a white woman in town, and for that he was mutilated and murdered at the age of fourteen. He was found with part of a cotton gin tied around his neck with a string of barbed wire. His killers, two white men, had shot him in the head before they dumped him in the river.
Emmett Till’s body was found and returned to Chicago. To the shock of many, his mother insisted on an open casket at his funeral so that the public could see what happens to a little boy’s body when bigots decide he is less than human. She wanted photographers to take pictures of her mutilated son and freely publish them. More than 10,000 mourners came to the funeral home, and the photo of Emmett Till appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation.
“I just wanted the world to see,” she said. “I just wanted the world to see.”
The world did see, and nothing was ever the same again for the white supremacists of the United States of America. Because of Emmett Till, because of that shocking photograph of this little dead boy, just a few months later, “the revolt officially began on December 1, 1955” (from Eyes on the Prize) when Rosa Parks decided not to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The historic bus boycott began and, with the images of Emmett Till still fresh in the minds of many Americans, there was no turning back.
In March of 1965, the police of Selma, Alabama, brutally beat, hosed and tear-gassed a group of African Americans for simply trying to cross a bridge during a protest march. The nation was shocked by images of blacks viciously maimed and injured. So, too, was the President. Just one week later, Lyndon Johnson called for a gathering of the U.S. Congress and he went and stood before them in joint session and told them to pass a bill he was introducing that night – the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And, just five months later, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
In March, 1968, U.S. soldiers massacred 500 civilians at My Lai in Vietnam. A year and a half later, the world finally saw the photographs – of mounds of dead peasants covered in blood, a terrified toddler seconds before he was gunned down, and a woman with her brains literally blown out of her head. (These photos would join other Vietnam War photos, including a naked girl burned by napalm running down the road, and a South Vietnamese general walking up to a handcuffed suspect, taking out his handgun, and blowing the guy’s brains out on the NBC Nightly News.)
With this avalanche of horrid images, the American public turned against the Vietnam War. Our realization of what we were capable of rattled us so deeply it became very hard for future presidents (until George W. Bush) to outright invade a sovereign nation and go to war there for a decade.
Bush was able to pull it off because his handlers, Misters Cheney and Rumsfeld, knew that the most important thing to do from the get-go was to control the images of the war, to guarantee that nothing like a My Lai-style photograph ever appeared in the U.S. press.
And that is why you never see a picture any more of the kind of death and destruction that might make you get up off your couch and run out of the house screaming bloody murder at those responsible for these atrocities.
That is why now, after the children’s massacre in Newtown, the absolute last thing the National Rifle Association wants out there in the public domain is ANY images of what happened that tragic day.
But I have a prediction. I believe someone in Newtown, Connecticut – a grieving parent, an upset law enforcement officer, a citizen who has seen enough of this carnage in our country – somebody, someday soon, is going to leak the crime scene photos of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. And when the American people see what bullets from an assault rifle fired at close range do to a little child’s body, that’s the day the jig will be up for the NRA. It will be the day the debate on gun control will come to an end. There will be nothing left to argue over. It will just be over. And every sane American will demand action.
Of course, there will be a sanctimonious hue and cry from the pundits who will decry the publication of these gruesome pictures. Those who do publish or post them will be called “shameful” and “disgraceful” and “sick.” How could a media outlet be so insensitive to the families of the dead children! Someone will then start a boycott of the magazine or website that publishes them.
But this will be a false outrage. Because the real truth is this: We do not want to be confronted with what the actual results of a violent society looks like. Of what a society that starts illegal wars, that executes criminals (or supposed criminals), that strikes or beats one of its women every 15 seconds, and shoots 30 of its own citizens every single day looks like. Oh, no, please – DO NOT MAKE US LOOK AT THAT!
Because if we were to seriously look at the 20 slaughtered children – I mean really look at them, with their bodies blown apart, many of them so unrecognizable the only way their parents could identify them was by the clothes they were wearing – what would be our excuse not to act? Now. Right now. This very instant! How on earth could anyone not spring into action the very next moment after seeing the bullet-riddled bodies of these little boys and girls?
We don’t know exactly what those Newtown photographs show. But I want you – yes, you, the person reading this right now – to think about what we do know:
The six-year and seven-year-old children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School were each hit up to eleven times by a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The muzzle velocity of a rifle like the AR-15 is about three times that of a handgun. And because the kinetic energy of a bullet equals one-half of the bullet’s mass multiplied by its velocity squared, the potential destructive power of a bullet fired from a rifle is about nine times more than that of a similar bullet fired from a handgun.
Nine times more. I spoke to Dr. Victor Weedn, chairman of the Department of Forensic Sciences at George Washington University, who told me that chest x-rays of a person shot with a rifle will often look like a “snowstorm” because their bones will have been shattered into fragments. This happens not just because of the bullet’s direct impact, but because each bullet sends a shock wave through the body’s soft organs – one so powerful it can break bones even when the bullet didn’t hit them. A video here shows what the shock wave looks like in the “ballistic gelatin” used by experts to simulate human tissue. (Would Gabby Giffords have survived if shot by a rifle rather than a Glock pistol? Probably not, says Dr. Weedn; the shock wave would have damaged the most critical parts of her brain.)
As horrifying as this is, there’s more; much more. Dr. Cyril Wecht, past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, told me this:
The kind of ammunition used by the Newtown killer would have produced very extensive, severe and mutilating injuries of the head and face in these small victims. Depending on the number of shots striking a child’s head, substantial portions of the head would be literally blasted away. The underlying brain tissue would be extensively lacerated with portions of hemorrhagic brain tissue protruding through the fractured calvarium and basilar skull, some of which would remain on portions of the face…actual physical identification of each child would have been extremely difficult, and in many instances impossible, even by the parents of any particular child.
We also know this, according to Dr. Wecht:
In one case, the parents have commented publicly upon the damage to their child, reporting that his chin and left hand were missing. Most probably, this child had brought his hand up to his face in shock and for protection and had the hand blasted away along with the lower part of his face.
Veronique Pozner, the mother of Noah, the six-year-old boy described by Dr. Wecht, insisted that the Governor of Connecticut look at Noah in an open casket. “I needed it to be real to him,” she said. The Governor wept.
The pictures showing all this exist right now, somewhere in the police and medical examiner’s files in Connecticut. And as of right now, we’ve somehow all decided together that we don’t need to look, that in some way we’re okay with what’s in those pictures (after all, over 2,600 Americans have been killed by guns since Newtown) – just as long as we don’t have to look at the pictures ourselves.
But I am telling you now, that moment will come with the Newtown photos – and you will have to look. You will have to look at who and what we are, and what we’ve allowed to happen. At the end of World War II, General Eisenhower ordered that thousands of German civilians be forced to march through the concentration camps so they could witness what was happening just down the road from them during the years that they turned their gaze away, or didn’t ask, or didn’t do anything to stop the murder of millions.
We’ve done nothing since Columbine – nothing – and as a result there have been over 30 other mass shootings since then. Our inaction means that we are all, on some level, responsible – and therefore, because of our burying our heads in the sand, we must be forced to look at the 20 dead children at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The people we’ve voted for since Columbine – with the exception of Michael Bloomberg – almost none of them, Democrat or Republican, dared to speak out against the NRA before Newtown – and yet we, the people, continued to vote for them. And for that we are responsible, and that is why we must look at the 20 dead children.
Most of us continue to say we “support the Second Amendment” as if it were written by God (or we’re just afraid of being seen as anti-American). But this amendment was written by the same white men who thought a Negro was only 3/5 human. We’ve done nothing to revise or repeal this – and that makes us responsible, and that is why we must look at the pictures of the 20 dead children laying with what’s left of their bodies on the classroom floor in Newtown, Connecticut.
And while you’re looking at the heinous photographs, try saying those words out loud: “I support the Second Amendment!” Something, I’m guessing, won’t feel right.
Yes, someday a Sandy Hook mother – or a Columbine mother, or an Aurora mother, or a mother from massacres yet to come – will say, like the mother of Emmett Till, “I just want the world to see.” And then nothing about guns in this country will ever be the same again.
Pack your bags, NRA – you’re about to be shown the door. Because we refuse to let another child die in this manner. Got it? I hope so.
All you can do now is hope no one releases those photos.
Is that sicko enough for you?
President Obama: I’m no Dick Cheney on drones
By: Josh Gerstein and Manu Raju
March 14, 2013 04:37 AM EDT
President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheney was worse.
That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
Obama recently allowed members of those panels to see the memos, but only after senators in both parties threatened to hold up the confirmation of John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency director. Brennan was confirmed last week, but lawmakers not on one of the intelligence panels are still being denied access to the memos and several are steamed over being frozen out.
In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.
Two Obama administration officials, who asked not to be named, confirmed Rockefeller raised the drone oversight issue with the president at the session. The White House had no comment on Obama’s alleged reference to the former vice president.
While Obama defended his handling of the issue, he told his former Senate colleagues he understood their concerns about being left out of the loop on such sensitive decisions, senators said. The president noted that he would have “probably objected” over the White House’s handling of this issue if he were still a senator, they said. But, according to the sources, he noted his viewpoint changed now that he occupies the Oval Office — not a room in a Senate office building.
Asked about the exchange on Wednesday, Rockefeller would only say: “I’ll leave it where it is.”
However, Rockefeller hasn’t been shy about his views on the issue. During a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing Tuesday just before the meeting with Obama, the senior senator from West Virginia railed against the administration’s secrecy and publicly charged that it amounted to a return to the Bush approach.
“It’s a terrible situation,” a clearly irritated Rockefeller said during the annual hearing focusing on global threats to the U.S.
“What happened over the last couple of weeks is a threat, is a threat to trust between us and you, us towards you and you towards us,” Rockefeller told Brennan and other administration witnesses. “What basically happened was that we were given certain things which we requested, primarily because [Brennan was] up for confirmation….Had we not been given those things, some of those things which we requested, the confirmation would not have had the votes.”
“There was a minder who was sent in. I was unaware that that person was going to have to be there. It was an insult to me,” Rockefeller said. “And I kicked the person out. He said, ‘My orders are I have to be here. And I said something else.’”
Rockefeller raised his concerns about the “minder” again directly with Obama during the Tuesday afternoon caucus meeting, one White House official said.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday morning, Chairman Patrick Leahy suggested he’d recently raised the issue with the president. The Vermont Democrat also reiterated his threat to subpoena one of the classified legal memos if the White House won’t fork it over. Leahy voted against Brennan’s confirmation in what the Judiciary Committee chairman said was a protest over the administration’s refusal to show the relevant memos to his committee, which oversees the Justice Department.
”Every time I asked the question of various people, the attorney general, the president and others, it’s always somebody else’s department,” Leahy said. “This is something we’re very serious about — one [opinion] especially this committee may end up subpoenaing if we can’t get it.”
Rockefeller also charged that after Brennan was confirmed, the administration clammed up again and “went directly back to the way they were from 2001-2 to 2007.”
As for the legal memos shared after two years of requests, Rockefeller said there was “nothing in them which is a threat to anybody.” He also complained bitterly about the administration initially denying Senate staffers cleared to see highly classified information access to the memos and about someone sent in to watch him and an aide when they finally got to look at some of the documents in a secure room.
Carrie Budoff Brown contributed to this report.
© 2013 POLITICO LLC
A pop quiz for all you QUIZlings…
Q: What is the cause of the failing economy, unemployment, recession, debt, “war on (insert ANY cause here)”, taxes, hurricanes, paper cuts, those extra five pounds you cannot lose, why no prom date, The Jersey Shore, and any complaint, problem, or issue you, your family or your pet may have?
- It is George W. Bush’s fault.
- It is the Republican Party’s fault.
- It is the Bush bailout, tax cuts, Iraq war, etc’s fault.
- Insert one or all of the above.
And your answer is “D”.
Does this have a familiar, nauseating refrain? Why yes it does, thanks for asking.
Do not fret, oh wide-eyed pal’o’mine for you have chosen well.
If you selected “D”, you sound just like the leader of the free world, that whacky commander-in-chief, the POTUS with the MOSTUS, you favorite drinking, skeet-shooting, duffer pal, Barry, O Barry.
Go forth, my young, naïve-ish, sweet kid and blame away. You are just what we’re looking for. Call me…
ss = s2 = stylish satirist
Baby: “Wahhhhhhhh, wahhhhhhhhhhh, baby want, baby need, baby UP!!!!!”
Frustrated taxpaying babysitter: “Baby, please shut up and grow up or it’s back to federally funded daycare!!!”
Former administration insider skewers Obama national security team
By James Rosen Published March 12, 2013 | FoxNews.com
An administration riven with infighting. A commander-in-chief given to “dithering” on critical wartime decisions. A suspicious and devious White House staff erecting a “Berlin Wall” around a secluded and standoffish president, shielding him from those advisers — particularly at the Department of State — willing to convey unpleasant truths.
It all sounds rather like the sensational literature that proliferated in the mid-to-late 1970s to chronicle the collapsed presidency of Richard Nixon — including the description of a White House “Berlin Wall,” originally applied, with great fanfare, to those much-maligned (and eventually imprisoned) Nixon aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.
Instead, it is President Obama’s turn to watch as former aides and journalists rush into print — with a warp speed that eluded the insider memoirists of the 1970s — their detailed and dishy accounts of the first Obama term.
A forthcoming book by former foreign policy aide Vali Nasr paints the above portrait, describing a president whose decisions “from start to finish were guided by politics.”
Nasr was a rising academic star, one of the leading scholarly voices on Iran and the Mideast, when the late Richard Holbrooke tapped him, at the dawn of the Obama administration, to join Holbrooke at a newly created office of the State Department: SRAP, short for Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The voluble, outsized Holbrooke, one of the most celebrated diplomats of his age, always on the short list to become secretary of state but never chosen for the job, was expected to bring his formidable talents — and ego — to bear on the problem of integrating more fully the often contradictory policies applied to the two nations so central to U.S. counter-terrorism and national security.
But by the time he died from a ruptured aorta, in December 2010, Holbrooke had been systematically marginalized by the Obama White House, Vasr writes. Due out next month, Vasr’s book “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat” (Doubleday) depicts Holbrooke and his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, waging an often unsuccessful battle to pierce the “Berlin Wall” and present their views to the president. The book charges that White House aides used targeted leaks and other means to “undermine” Holbrooke — and worked hard to cut Clinton out of critical policymaking, too.
“Those in Obama’s inner circle, veterans of his election campaign, were suspicious of Clinton,” Nasr writes in an excerpt published on ForeignPolicy.com. “Even after Clinton proved she was a team player, they remained concerned about her popularity and feared that she could overshadow the president. … Had it not been for Clinton’s tenacity and the respect she commanded, the State Department would have had no influence on policymaking whatsoever.”
State Department spokesmen pushed back hard against Nasr’s charges. “We have an excellent working relationship with our White House and interagency colleagues,” Patrick Ventrell told reporters at the March 4 press briefing. “So we really stand behind the record of the progress we’ve made in Afghanistan.”
Ventrell’s boss, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, said at the March 8 briefing that she “would reject … completely” the notion that Holbrooke had been sidelined by the National Security Council. “If you know Richard Holbrooke at all,” she told reporters, “you know that he was a formidable force in that job, as he had been in all previous jobs.”
Perhaps most arresting, however, is Nasr’s portrayal of President Obama. The commander-in-chief is depicted here as “dithering” on key Afghan war decisions, tasking national security aides with the same questions, rephrased in minor ways, over and over. Nasr also casts Obama as quick to abandon foreign policy promises made on the campaign trail and too reliant on individuals unqualified to weigh in on foreign policy.
“The president had a truly disturbing habit,” Nasr writes, “of funneling major foreign-policy decisions through a small cabal of relatively inexperienced White House advisers whose turf was strictly politics. … His actions from start to finish were guided by politics. … It was no surprise that our AfPak policy took one step forward and two steps back.”
Donald Camp, a retired Foreign Service officer who served under three presidents, worked on AfPak policy as both the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia and as senior director for that region on the Obama National Security Council. Camp told Fox News that the excerpts from Nasr’s book appear to show that the author was perhaps unduly colored by the experiences of his boss, Holbrooke.
“President Obama is very much — was very much involved in those days in making Afghanistan and Pakistan policy,” Camp said in an interview this month. “And I believe that he sought out all views; and there were differing views in the interagency (process), and he made the final decision.”
Camp took specific issue with Nasr’s allegation that then-National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones improperly offered Pakistan a civilian nuclear deal, similar to the kind that the U.S. negotiated with India over several years, in exchange for Islamabad escalating its counter-terrorism efforts. Camp said he traveled with Jones to Islamabad, and that the general knew better than to imagine such a deal could pass muster with the U.S. Congress. “It was just not in the cards,” Camp told Fox News, “and James Jones would not have made that kind of proposal.”
Jones did not respond to requests for comment.
“My time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience.”
BY VALI NASR | MARCH/APRIL 2013
Vali Nasr is dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. This article is excerpted from his book The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat copyright © 2013, published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House, Inc.’s Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
Michelle Obama returns to Vogue cover as a first lady who’s melded style, influence
By Robin Givhan, Thursday, March 14, 12:01 AM
The bangs made it into Vogue.
First lady Michelle Obama will appear on the cover of the fashion glossy when the April issue arrives on newsstands in less than two weeks. But with this sophomore turn on the Vogue cover, the sight of her smiling visage and freshly cut locks in the pages of the fashion industry’s guardian of establishment aesthetics is less of a surprise and more of an expectation.
Obama seems to have settled comfortably into her pop-culture status as a fashion icon, having boldly indulged in such who-the-heck-are-they designers as Thom Browne and Bibhu Mohapatra. With the aid of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz and a village of stylists led by Vogue fashion editor Tonne Goodman, there was a near guarantee of a flattering image for the historical record. Vogue magazine boasts a circulation of some 1.2 million readers. It is not the political press.
And Anna Wintour, the magazine’s influential editor, was one of President Obama’s most tireless fundraisers during the last campaign.
The White House says Michelle Obama was merely following in the footsteps of other first ladies who interviewed with the magazine and continuing her own tradition of speaking to media outlets, whether it’s the AARP magazine or “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”
Vogue “is such a fascinating institution,” says Jonathan Van Meter, who wrote the accompanying story, for which he interviewed both the first lady and the president. “It’s always had this strain of politics in it. But Vogue likes to like people. And I like to like people when I write about them. There’s a certain comfort level with the environment. And there’s something very ceremonious about Vogue and a Vogue shoot.”
Van Meter, who says he began angling for the interview more than three years ago, sat down with the first couple for 40 minutes in January, during which they discussed parenting, staying grounded, constituent impatience, political urgency and, of course, style: his lack of it, the attention paid to hers.
“If you’re comfortable in your clothes it’s easy to connect with people and make them feel comfortable as well,” the first lady told Van Meter.
Michelle Obama’s debut appearance on the Vogue cover in March 2009 was indeed an East Wing rite of passage going back at least to Mamie Eisenhower. Being photographed for the magazine is one of the few remaining bipartisan gestures. For that portrait, she sat curled on a sofa with her long, toned arms lightly wrapped one over the other in a protective gesture.
The April 2013 cover shows her in a more open, more assertive stance. She leans against a table and looks directly into the camera’s lens with her bare arms — still lean, perhaps a bit more toned — resting at her side. She’s wardrobed from her own closet in a Reed Krakoff sheath in cerulean blue with a flourish of purple at the neckline. She wears the same look in the photograph inside with the president, who’s dressed in a pinstriped shirt and a blue — but not matchy-matchy — tie.
Finally, another photograph captures her in a traditional, pensive White House pose, in profile wearing a black slim-fitting Michael Kors sweater and ball skirt. It’s a look that harks back to the sporty elegance favored by Vogue favorites such as socialites C.Z. Guest and Babe Paley. It firmly places Obama in the world of “classic” beauties — a place that had once been off-limits to women of color.
Obama has appeared on the covers of countless magazines, from Essence to Ladies’ Home Journal, but the Vogue cover — with its enduring legacy of high fashion, high society and an obsession with a particular kind of gilded beauty that drives size-14, short, brown or round women to distraction — holds a different place.
“When you’re on the cover of Vogue, it means that your personal imagery has power, not only your career realm or your political realm,” says Constance C.R. White, author of “Style Noir” and former editor in chief of Essence.
“Fashion has become more powerful,” she says. “Style can be used as a powerful tool, and any number of powerful women wield their power through incredible style.” She points to finance executive Mellody Hobson and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as examples.
Vogue’s increasing ability to corral female power brokers suggests that the conventional wisdom is becoming obsolete. Women who are viewed through the lens of fashion are not doomed to be declared frivolous.
“It gives these women a chance to be three-dimensional,” says Dee Dee Myers, former Clinton White House press secretary and now a political analyst. “Can you be powerful and feminine? Can you be authoritative and beautiful? The answer is yes.”
In an era when social media has made image management part of the daily life of anyone on Facebook or Twitter, few entities are more adept at old-school image-making than Vogue. “It’s all part of the tool kit, now,” says Myers, who had her own Vogue moment when she first stepped behind the lectern in the White House briefing room in 1993.
When first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on the cover of Vogue in December 1998, in the shadow of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she wore a garnet Oscar de la Renta velvet ball gown — not a career woman’s pantsuit, not a stuffy Washington luncheon suit. The image was studiously regal and dignified, presenting Clinton with her head held high and existing above the pity, anger and recriminations.
“It foreshadowed the Hillary we’ve come to know, who she has become in the public consciousness, this formidable figure,” Myers says.
As Michelle Obama enters her fifth year in the White House, her image has shifted from that of an African American woman who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, to an assertive lawyer and career woman, to a non-threatening mom-in-chief harvesting sweet potatoes, to a kind of glamorous hybrid who — based on approval ratings hovering around 70 percent — both inspires and reassures.
Style has been inexorably related to this evolution and her ability to command attention.
“She’s become very savvy about her image and using it to further her husband’s goals,” White says. “Now she’s a fashion icon. She’s willing to play all those cards.”
Superficial charm is “the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile.” The phrase often appears in lists of attributes of psychopathic personalities, such as in Hervey Cleckley’s … Wikipedia
Charm offensive is a related concept meaning a publicity campaign, usually by politicians, that attempts to attract supporters by emphasizing their charisma or trustworthiness. The first recorded use of the expression is in the California newspaper The Fresno Bee Republican in October 1956.