December 06, 2005
Vanity Fair profiles Arianna Huffington as the ultimate activist-socialite. The article -- which is mostly flattering -- makes for a fun read, if only because of the magazine's breathless and over-the-top style:
Huffington's conversation overflows with flattery and solicitous inquiries, and there is an almost hypnotic quality to her silken voice and her sultry accentÃ¢â‚¬â€"which," she has said, "makes everything I say sound vaguely naughty." But it is when she starts to talk, really talk, that people are swept under. This is a woman who actually has read her Kierkegaard, her Schopenhauer, her John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx, and she can quote from them. At Cambridge she studied economics and was president of the university's storied debating society, the Cambridge UnionÃ¢â‚¬â€which has made her a master sophist, capable of cutting an issue 16 ways and winning the argument without revealing what she really believes. On television, that has made her extraordinarily persuasive, a talk-show guest who "really knows her shit," says Bill Maher, "and never stumbles." In society, among the wealthy and influential, the sheer force of her mind has won her countless friends and admirers. "It's why she pulls everyone in," says her friend the socialite and author Sugar Rautbord. "Arianna is probably one of the most intellectually seductive human beings on the face of the planet. She has such a powerful brain, and she exudes an intellectuality that is almost sexual." [Vanity Fair]Full disclosure: I can't claim to know Ms. Huffington but the few times I've met her -- at various promotional and fundraising events for AlterNet -- she was warm and kind.