It was entirely predictable that incoming vice president Kamala Harris would appear on the cover of the latest issue of Vogue magazine. Few, however, could have foreseen the backlash it would unleash among her adoring liberal fans.
It is easy to see why Vogue would choose a cover image featuring Harris's signature Converse sneakers. Despite warnings from liberal activists that highlighting a female politician's fashion choices amounted to "sexist" reporting, professional journalists repeatedly demonstrated an unhealthy obsession with Kamala's trendy footwear.
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Tweeting about Harris's shoes with fire emojis was perfectly acceptable. Putting the Chuck Taylors on the cover of Vogue was, apparently, an unforgivable offense. Vogue had "overstepped" with its photo choice and failed to give Harris "due respect," wrote Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan. "It was overly familiar. It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation."
The photo was "disrespectful," some argued, because it was "far below" the magazine's standards. Some demanded Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour's resignation. "What a mess up," wrote Wajahat Ali of the New York Times. "Anna Wintour must really not have Black friends and colleagues."
There is some controversy surrounding Vogue‘s decision to publish the more informal cover photo, as opposed to the more professional shot the magazine will use for a second "digital" cover, and which Kamala's team apparently assumed would be the main cover image. Who knows? Who cares?
Vogue probably thought it did everything right. The "controversial" photo, taken by a black photographer, was the result of a photoshoot overseen by a black fashion designer and accompanied a story authored by a black journalist. Some libs liked the cover because they thought it would annoy Trump and his model wife, Melania.
Vogue made a reasonable argument in defense of its photo selection, arguing that "the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature—which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration."
The Washington Post made this very point in September in an article praising Harris for daring to wear "the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies." At the time, few if any of the people criticizing Vogue today would have disagreed with the following assessment:
Many people cast Harris’s shoes as a sign she is a candidate for an evolving constituency. At a time when many in the Democratic Party are calling for a different kind of leader, a sentiment that contributed to Biden’s promise to name a woman as running mate, Harris’s shoes resonated with those who saw something more familiar in low-rise Chucks than the usual polished wingtips.
So we have a disagreement over whether Democratic politicians should be treated like relatable celebs in sneakers, or dignified politicians in business suits. The answer to both is "yes," obviously, but it depends on the circumstances.
Perhaps the controversy was inevitable. Libs love to complain, and with Trump no longer the sole focus of their deranged anxieties, new insufferable controversies will arise and fade, arise and fade, and so on. The next four years will feature a lot of this nonsense.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Vogue cover story inside the magazine, it can be summed up in a single sentence: "Harris's natural charisma and relatability lend her a version of what you might call the Obama effect."