FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Beware of Greeks Bearing Glibness

Given all the unsettling stuff going on in the world right now, one might properly ask: Why bother picking on someone as benign and tangential as Arianna Huffington? Why this particular woman and why now? After all, since selling her seminal “Huffington Post” to AOL (in 2011), Arianna has been out of the spotlight.

But things changed a bit in 2016. Not that there is any logical or readily apparent connection, but one could argue that Donald Trump’s preposterous presidential victory automatically brings to mind Arianna Huffington’s equally astonishing meteoric rise.

Where Trump was the thin-skinned man-child real estate tycoon who hosted a popular reality TV show and whose sudden interest in national politics spawned delusions of grandeur, Arianna was the bright, sharp-eyed opportunist on a near predatory quest for personal glory. In fact, other than Arianna being smarter, shrewder, funnier, subtler, abler, taller, and infinitely more secure than Trump, the comparison has merits.

Volumes could be written about the sustainability and high octane thrust of mega-ambition. Here are two quotes that go a long way toward summing up Arianna’s ability to self-promote. This, from Ed Rollins, a veteran campaign strategist: “Ariana Huffington is the most ruthless and ambitious person I’ve met in thirty years of politics.” And this casual reference to her, from Los Angeles Magazine: “The Sir Edmund Hillary of social climbers.”

So where did the now “liberal” Arianna come from, and how was she, in the mid-1990s (to quote David Brock) “able to reinvent herself as the godmother of the Gingrich Revolution”?

It all began in England, where the Greek-born Arianna relocated from Athens when she was sixteen. As a student at Girton College, Cambridge, she became only the third woman (and first foreigner) to be elected president of the Cambridge Union. Despite a propensity for chameleon-like glibness, no one ever denied that Arianna was brilliant.

But brilliant or not, Arianna was never one to embrace gender politics. Indeed, not only was she not a “feminist,” she firmly opposed the Women’s Liberation movement. In 1973 she wrote a book entitled “The Female Woman” (basically a rebuttal to Germaine Greer’s blockbuster, “The Female Eunuch”).

Always the proud and sexually active heterosexual, here’s a quote from that book: “Women’s Lib claims that the achievement of total liberation would transform the lives of all women for the better. The truth is that it would transform only the lives of women with strong lesbian tendencies.” Ouch.

Arianna authored a couple of other books, both of which were problematic. She wrote a 1981 biography of opera diva Maria Callas (“Maria Callas—The Woman Behind the Legend”), and, in 1989, she did a biography of Pablo Picasso (“Picasso: Creator and Destroyer”).

After being accused of plagiarizing significant portions of both books, she agreed to out-of-court settlements, a penalty that had to have hurt all the more as both books (according to Brock) had been ghost-written. Presumably, she never even had the guilty pleasure of doing the deed herself.

The year 1986 marked the start of her life in “full contact” politics. This was the year she married California Republican and oil scion Michael Huffington. In 1992, at Arianna’s urging, Michael ran for congress and won a seat after having spent a reported a whopping $30 million on the campaign, the most ever spent in a California congressional race up to that point.

And then, in 1994, after barely having gotten his feet wet in congress, Michael Huffington ran for the U.S. Senate, narrowly losing to incumbent Diane Feinstein. Shortly before the election it was revealed that Arianna had violated some state laws regarding household servants (i.e., proper documentation, tax forms), which, given how close the election was, may have contributed to Michael’s loss.

As of 1996, Arianna was still a Republican. She was recognized as an integral part of Newt Gingrich’s brain trust, and was a vocal supporter of Robert Dole’s candidacy for president. Then, around the turn of the millennium, things changed. After having divorced Michael, in1997, and sensing that Newt had burnt out, it was time to move on. Arianna morphed into a different animal. Not a Democrat precisely, but something close.

In 2003, she ran for California governor as an “independent.” After engaging in some lively and entertaining televised debates with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, the eventual winner, she withdrew from the race, realizing she had no chance of winning.

It’s fair to say that her goal all along had been to get noticed—to show off her considerable wit and rhetorical skills—not to run the state from Sacramento. However, her name remained on the ballot. She wound up with 0.55% of the vote.

Arianna Huffington’s story ended very much the way she hoped. She set herself an ambitious goal, and she came close to achieving everything she wanted. Once the “Huffington Post” had run its course, she deftly bowed out. AOL is reported to have paid $310 million for it. Only in America.

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail