President Obama was officially inaugurated into his second term Sunday, and with that comes a slew of new diplomatic appointments. According to The New York Times, the race for 30 or so politically appointed ambassadorships is now in full thrall. This time around the competition is exceptionally crowded, with more than 300 hopefuls: a well-appointed crew that reportedly no longer includes Vogue editor Anna Wintour. In the past few months it’s been rumored that Wintour—a key fundraising figure in Obama’s 2012 campaign—was seeking appointment to either the U.K. or France, as both positions offer ample social clout in addition to notable sprawling residences. Though contrary to previous rumor, Wintour had actually favored the British appointment over France. The Times writes that after Wintour was notified that her preferred post would likely go to Obama’s top fundraiser Matthew Barzun in November, she was uninterested in pushing for one of the remaining positions.
Wintour’s spokesperson told the Times that “she was happy with her job at Vogue.” The person did not, however, mention that Wintour recently signed a multiyear contract with Vogue publisher Condé Nast, which includes clauses that would financially penalize Wintour should she prematurely abdicate her position, as WWD reported in early December. At the time, Wintour’s close friend, designer Oscar de la Renta, found the prospect ridiculous, telling the paper, “When you are editor in chief of an extremely successful magazine, you don’t need an ambassadorship for four years. Ambassadors were great in the 18th century. Today, it’s going to the opening of a cafeteria.”
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The U.K. spot that Wintour sought is the most prestigious in American diplomacy. It’s unknown if Barzun—who served as finance chairman of Obama’s national fundraising operation—will accept the position if it’s offered. But the Times says that “he will get the United Kingdom post if he wants it.” Barzun previously served as the United States’ ambassador to Sweden from 2009 to 2011. And with Wintour “no longer seeking the appointment” to France, a doorway has apparently opened up for hedge-funder Marc Lasry.
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