Sen. Rand Paul gets the Vogue treatment in the October issue, and the result is pretty flattering. It's not hard to come across well on Anna Wintour's pages, however — Vogue made "desert rose" Asma al Assad look great in 2011. So Paul shouldn't get too excited yet, especially since Vogue doesn't make the best political predictions. The magazine ran a flattering profile on Jon Hunstman in advance of 2012 Republican primary, and look how things turned out for him.
Paul's profile was penned by The Washington Post's Jason Horowitz, and it traces the senator's upbringing as well as his famous dad's strong influence on his politics. The piece also introduces America to Paul's "secret weapon" wife, Kelley. She slams Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal and talks about the time she gave Paul a "me or her" dating ultimatum. But according to Horowitz, she's "more than merely a pretty image-softener," even though she "draws out her husband’s warmer, more mischievous side" with her "ebullient smile." Despite her anti-Clinton views, Kelley can be bipartisan: Joe Biden was featured in the Paul family Christmas card.
Kelley shows me family photos, pointing out one portrait from her husband’s swearing-in with Vice President Joe Biden, which she sent out as a Christmas card. “I got so much grief about that,” she says. “It was just pure laziness on my part. I have three boys who hate to pose for pictures.”
Her husband made clear he loves a good political fight. Paul says he enjoys his feud with Chris Christie, another Republican presidential contender: "Paul gleefully notes to me that his latest Christie-baiting tweet is 'really going to escalate the war' between the two Republicans."
The only moment of tension in the piece is when Horowitz brings up Paul's "Southern Avenger" aide, Jack Hunter. The Washington Free Beacon broke a story in July that Hunter had espoused secessionist views as a shock jock radio host. According to Paul, Hunter is "not a racist, he’s not a white supremacist... The story came out from people who are opposed to my foreign policy and opposed to civil liberties." Paul says his views are winning, so that "this is used to punish me."
To be clear, Vogue is not partisan in its friendly political profiles — Democrats, Republicans, and dictators' wives alike are portrayed as stylish serious people. Wendy Davis, who might run for governor in Texas, was profiled this month, while Cory Booker, who is running for Senate in New Jersey, was profiled in December. (Davis is likely to lose, Booker is likely to win.) A flattering profile in a fancy fashion magazine run by a prominent Obama donor probably won't help Paul's presidential chances, but that's OK. Unlike Huntsman, he's got a couple years to recover. But even if his fledging campaign goes the way of Huntsman's, at least the family got some great photos for this year's Christmas card.