Going Vogue

The piece about Nikki Haley in Vogue, like most national media coverage we’ve seen of her, reliably hits all the wrong notes — and hits them hard. One wonders how the piece was typed, since the writer seems to be constantly hugging himself with delight to be in her presence. (A woman! An Indian-American Woman! A young, Indian American Woman, governor of backward South Carolina! Oh, the rapture!) The cognitive vacuum created by the utter lack of perspective and skepticism is deeply disturbing. But we’ve grown accustomed to that.

Some of the more gag-inducing bits:

  • “On a warm morning in early March, governor Nikki Haley calls three members of the South Carolina state legislature into her office. They look like truants sent in to see the principal: Haley is earnest and stern, smartly turned out in a black-and-white ruffled jacket, black pencil skirt, and platform stilettos, while the legislators, in baggy suits and cowboy boots, fidget and make excuses.”
  • “Since then, she’s routinely been called a rising star in the party, which, when you’re talking about a governor, is code for White House–bound.”
  • “But still, she continues, leaning forward confidingly, ‘it’s different for the guys upstairs. This is the first time they’ve had a female governor; it’s the first time they’ve had a minority governor.'”

In other words, she plays Mr. Christopher Cox like a tin whistle.

But bits of clarity do slip in. My favorite:

  • “Haley in person looks even younger than her age: fit and attractive, with a face free of worry lines.”

Indeed. That has long been one of Nikki’s most notable traits. She believes that everything she believes is true, and doesn’t doubt. And as I remember from years past when I would grumpily try to disabuse her of one of those bumper-sticker principles — say, “I want to see government run like a business” — she is impervious to reason, perspective or argument.

If I were like that, my face would be pretty free of lines, too.

As the NYT Magazine noted, “Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, doesn’t care what you think.”

Sometimes, the national media get it just right, in spite of themselves.

41 thoughts on “Going Vogue

  1. Doug Ross

    “She believes that everything she believes is true, and doesn’t doubt. ”

    That describes you, me, and pretty much everyone else who comments on your blog.

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    It looks like they Photoshopped the face of Christina Ferrare, from her John DeLorean years, onto Nikki.

    Brad, we each have at least a decade on Nikki, and neither of us have worry lines. WTF are they gushing about….

  3. `Kathryn Fenner

    Also, this is the magazine that famously wrote a puff piece on the first lady of Syria about a year ago….

  4. susanincola

    The picture looks like she’s trying to sell that belted shirt she’s wearing to me.

    (BTW — I’m the same person as SusanG — but susanincola makes my avatar work).

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    Dunno, Doug. I strive to tell the truth, but I hardly think I nail it every time. I certainly try to check in with reality every so often.

  6. Brad

    Actually, Doug, that’s not true of me. Yes, I assert the things I have to say with a certain ring of confidence. I see no point in saying anything in a halfway manner.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t doubt. I have my doubts about everything I write. The more confidently I assert it, the more uneasy I am.

    Whenever we were really hanging out there with an editorial, I’d wake up early in the morning, knowing it was in my paper box outside, and thinking, “OMG, I hope we’re right.” And you know, anytime a sane person thinks on such things in the wee hours of the morning, he doubts.

    It’s why, as I’ve written in the past, one of the favorite quotes I’ve put on my profile on Facebook is this one, from “Catch-22:”

    “I wouldn’t want to live without strong misgivings. Right, Chaplain?”

  7. KP

    I found this article disturbing when I read it. It’s not just that it hits the reliable wrong notes; the whole thing is just wrong. Why does South Carolina’s governor want to pose for Vogue, and why does she have time? It lacks gravitas. Like David Beasley in a do-rag. If I were her press secretary, I would have said no.

  8. tavis micklash

    “It’s not just that it hits the reliable wrong notes; the whole thing is just wrong. Why does South Carolina’s governor want to pose for Vogue, and why does she have time?”

    Press secretary may say no. Book editor says hells yea.

    It is what it is. She is selling a product and image. She wants to broaden her base of influence. Political capital that she has (deservedly or not) only happens once in a career. If she has ambitions out of SC now is the time to take them.

    If it works out great. If it doesnt work out you go on the speaker circuit or be an analyst for one of the news networks.

    Remember Rick Santorum got ran out of office in 2006 losing by 18%. Six years later he comes damn close to ganering the Republican nod.

    The GOP has a percieved women problem right now. Anything can happen. Governor Haley is a woman who is geting called up to the majors. In a way she isnt much different than that relief pitcher they bring in just to go up against a left handed batter.

  9. Alison May

    Let’s see: Since the term “gravitas” was force-fed by media when speaking of President Bush’s lack thereof, it has been run into the ground in the vapid , biased attacks on conservatives. Say what you will about Vogue- it thrives as our former The State , operates with a skeleton crew. It was the smart move. Does anyone think our poor little backward state would be portrayed as anything more? Have Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama been vilified for their Vogue and Vanity Fair features? It sells books. “The State” , nor its former displaced writer/executives lack both fairness AND gravitas toward that end.

  10. Rose

    Looks like she got the typical celebrity-quality makeup/hair/Photoshopping/pore erasing treatment. And she does look like someone out of catalog. What drivel!

    Oh, and this is for susanincola:

  11. Doug Ross

    “The more confidently I assert it, the more uneasy I am.”

    That makes no sense whatsoever. A person like that would have no credibility at all. A person like that would be constantly switching sides in any debate based on new evidence.

    It’s also illogical. That would mean your very strong opinions regarding Nikki Haley are at the same time open to change at any time.

  12. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ KP

    “Gravitas & Nikki Haley”

    Your search has returned 0 items.

    I mean, “Can’t Is Not an Option”– Gravitas?

  13. Brad

    So you think it’s a party thing, Alison? Evidently you are not familiar with me or my blog.

    Nor have you polled Republicans at the State House to see what THEY think of their governor.

  14. Brad

    Everything is open to change, Doug. Otherwise there’s no point in engaging in political debate. (Unless you think like the partisans, and consider “debate” to be about scoring points, dismaying the opposition and stirring the blood of one’s own side. But that’s not debate.)

    Remember, I endorsed Nikki Haley for the House. Twice. Had she continued to run for the House, and had continued to have weak opponents, I probably would have done so again, had I stayed at the paper.

    But either she changed, or she revealed more about herself when she ran for governor. Actually, it’s probably both. I think running for high office and seeing success during the campaign turned her head and changed her, yet at the same time brought out some things in her that had been there already, but not as visible.

    Anyway, there’s an example of changing my mind. And far from being capricious, it’s something you can follow over the years. Just do a search on “Nikki Haley” both on this blog and on my old one.

    I think the beginning of doubts about her came when she was taking on the leadership over her roll-call vote bill. If you read what I wrote then, you won’t find me criticizing her. And you’ll see me suggesting Bobby Harrell was heavy-handed in his reaction. But you won’t see me strongly advocating her cause. That’s because I was starting to sort of half-see this Joan of Arc tendency to self-dramatize and play the martyr, and there was just this slight hint of falseness in it — something everyone has had ample opportunity to observe over the last couple of years, but which seemed new to me then.

    But if nothing more than that had come to my attention, as I say, I probably would have continued to believe more positive of her than negative. It took the big stage of running for governor, which put her faults into such sharp relief, that turned that around.

  15. Doug Ross

    So you are more open to changing your mind about Nikki now than before because your opinions are much stronger? That’s what you claimed.

  16. Bart

    I have never hidden the fact that Haley is not my favorite politician but at some point, the piling on becomes a little much.

    Until I read this and all of the comments, I thought Joan Rivers and her daughter had their own show on E! where they trash and do everything they can do to take down a celebrity with their bitchy commentary and observations about their clothes and accessories.

    Well Joan and daughter, you have competition.

  17. Mark Stewart

    Between the many South Carolinian’s who find our Governor to be of questionable integrity and a fashion mag profiling a story of impressions, the “piling on” is clearly coming from north of the Potomac.

  18. tavis micklash

    “Until I read this and all of the comments, I thought Joan Rivers and her daughter had their own show on E! where they trash and do everything they can do to take down a celebrity with their bitchy commentary and observations about their clothes and accessories. ”

    Governor Haley by promoting herself in a style magazine has crossed the line into public figure from just a political figure.

    By doing so she does open herself up on comments like this.

    In a way its not much different from Mark Sanchez of the Jets. Your free to go in GQ shirtless and put yourself out there is a sex symbol to bring in endorsements. His team mates are also free to dogpile him for these actions.

    Personally i like the striped shirt combo. I think the belt breaks up the flow nicely as well. Don;t know anything about photography but the blue filter does give it a certain old world appeal. Kind of reminds me of the way Mel Gibson’s Payback was shot.

  19. Kathy

    Narcissists like Haley have little or no self awareness or introspection. BTW, whose hair is that? (Have to laugh all we can right now.)

    Kathryn, concerning the worry lines, they were probably comparing her in person with most of her pictures which have lots of forehead lines of some sort.

  20. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Kathy–The Buzz in The State yesterday commented about the handy wind machine used in important meetings to keep her hair adequately fluffed….

    and Photoshop and fillers can take care of worry lines. I vote this was mostly Photoshop–I mean, they changed the shape of her face!

  21. susanincola


    “You know why super villains are so unhappy? They don’t treasure the little things.”

    Wise, insane, and well-nigh invulnerable. My favorite superhero ever.

  22. Silence

    I’ll bite on the J. Peterman challenge:

    She looked across the wharf at me with her deep brown eyes, her raven hair blowing in the cool spring breeze. Just the faintest hint of a smile crossed her full, pouty lips.

    No, I confessed, I had never swum across the Ganges before, and certainly not during monsoon season. I didn’t even have a visa for Bangladesh. She pretended not to notice my protestations as she began to disrobe, removing her modest sari and elegant jodhpurs to reveal a chic striped shirt that fell to mid-thigh. The vertical stripes were slimming, and the lengthy shirt was cinched with a plain leather belt, just below her ample bosoms, and further enhancing her already taut stomach. Our first meeting, just yesterday at tea in the luxuriant marble lobby of the Oberoi Hotel seemed so distant at this moment.

    Punjabi Pirate Shirt (No. 1138). Cut to mid-thigh length in 100% Indian cotton with built in imitation leather belt.

    Completely feminine with rolled mid-length cuffs and an integral hood to shield you from the intense sun of the subcontinent, or the winds of the Himalayas.

    Suitable even for governing a small southern state. Imported.

    Women’s sizes 2-14.

  23. `Kathryn Fenner

    but ample bosoms? How about something that suggests that it gives the illusion of ample bosoms even for those with Champagne coupes…

  24. `Kathryn Fenner

    “No, is your shirt missing?” Nikki had a charmingly vague relationship with the truth. Transparently, I could see she had not only slipped on my freshly-pressed crisp awning-striped Sea Island cotton shirt, but cinched her waspy waist with my Grandfather’s saddle leather book strap belt. She had at least left my gold cufflinks on the bedside table as she rolled up the double French cuffs—or had she?
    No matter. As she stood there at the end of the dock, her dock, the one with the green light at the end, feigning sincerity, I shrugged. “The rich are not like you and me.”

    Gatsby Sea Island Cotton Awning Stripe Shirt (No. 1920) – in Men’s sizes S-XL, but suitable for borrowing by the girls, with generous shirt tails, for belting over skinny white jeans, jodphurs…or not $95

    Grandfather’s Saddle Leather Book Bag Belt (No. 1945)–in British Raj Tan weathered leather, broken in just so. Adjustable as circumstances dictate, but best for tightening $125

  25. Silence

    Very good ‘Kathryn – Your late entry to the field has certainly raised the bar. Tomorrow, when my mind is fresh I will give it another shot.

    I don’t think I know “Land’s End” or “Chinese Ebay Seller”, that might take some online research.

  26. Steven Davis II

    $95 for a shirt, $125 for a belt… I just wait and buy my Land’s End and Eddie Bauer shirts at Goodwill for $4.

  27. `Kathryn Fenner

    Lands’ End:

    You said you wanted transparency, and we heard you. We remade our Governor Shirt with a bra-friendly transparent look that preserves your modesty. We kept all the features you loved about the Governor Shirt: great for digging holes and hiking the Appalachian Trail, and even lowered the price.

    [Note: this does not coordinate with our Legislative Separates.]

  28. Silence

    I’d rather write “hard-boiled detective” fiction:
    Silence’s face was rather pudgy, his chin obscured by a full beard and his mouth held in a frown. His nose was straight, as was the thinning dark hair, parted across his forehead. His eyes belied his youth and vigor, brown and surrounded by tired bags. His office door opened and his secretary, Selena Jones entered.
    He said to Miss Jones: “What’s up, doll?”
    She was thin and suntanned, dressed in a sheer cotton dress, and looked younger than her twenty years. She closed the door behind her and said: “There’s a woman here who wants to see you. Her name’s Haley.”
    “The Governor?”
    “I think so. You’ll like to see her. She’s got cash.”
    “Send her in, darling,” said Silence. “By all means, send her in.”
    Selena opened the door again, and went back into her office, leaving the door ajar. “Right this way, Miss Haley.” She said as she showed the governor into Silence’s inner sanctum.
    “Thank you for seeing me.” said the governor in a soft, Southern drawl.
    She was tall, dark and exotic, slender but curvaceous. At one point, she might have been described as sexy, but years of hard-living and raising children had taken its toll. She wore a white shirt with slimming vertical blue stripes, sleeves rolled to her elbows, and with a wide collar. The shirt was long, falling to mid-thigh, and paired with a set of light blue leggings. Her ensemble was cinched at the waist by a thin leather belt, accentuating her aging feminine curves. Her coarse dark hair was styled into a fashionable pouf, giving the illusion of several extra inches in height; her sole decoration was a simple gold cross on a thin chain around her neck. She looked at Silence with piercing dark eyes, and nervously bit her lip.
    Silence rose from behind the leather chair and stepped around the large oaken desk. He wasn’t quite six feet tall, and muscles rippled on his glistening body under his white oxford shirt.

  29. Brad

    Yeah, I just want to say, I appreciate what you bring to the blog, Silence.

    One quibble, though: Sweatstains. He should have sweatstains around the armpits of his shirt, on account of the lousy air-conditioning in his ratty walk-up office. He hopes that his shoulder holster hides them as he stands to meet the dame…

  30. Silence

    Brad, it’s my first attempt at writing hard boiled detective fiction, I don’t expect to get it 100% right out of the gate. I’ll do better next time!


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