Stateside

The strange odyssey of Arianna Huffington

With all the alleged excitement over the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of California, it’s worth mentioning that at least one other European-born candidate with a strange accent has entered the fray—the extraordinary Arriana Huffington. (There may be others; last I heard the list of candidates was nearing 200. And since the winner will be determined by a simple plurality, he or she theoretically could squeak by with less than one percent of the vote.)

Ms. Huffington’s life story would make a fine movie, or at least a fine upscale soap opera. She was born in Greece in 1950, the daughter of the editor of an underground newspaper during the Nazi occupation of the country. She read the complete works of Ayn Rand at age 11. On a scholarship, she attended Cambridge and served as head of the university’s debating society. She stayed in England after graduating and wrote a best-selling anti-feminist book. She took up with the conservative Times of London columnist Bernard Levin. Then she moved to New York, broke up with Levin and moved again to California, where she met, and later married, the multimillionaire Michael Huffington. Michael ran for Congress as a conservative Republican and was elected. In Washington Arianna, like her husband, supported then right-wing guru Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America.” In 1996, with Arianna’s encouragement, Michael Huffington spent millions of dollars of his own money and almost defeated incumbent Diane Feinstein in the election for the Senate from California. After the election Michael revealed that he was bisexual and the marriage broke up. Since then Arianna, while refusing to identify herself as a leftist, has become a political activist, author and TV personality, taking up issues and causes usually associated with the left. (So there’s still hope for you, Peter.)

Whether Arianna’s political beliefs are (or ever were) sincere I can’t say. But I can’t help liking her and wishing her well. A friend of mine in Missouri is the ex-wife of a former Republican congressman. After they broke up, she “came out” as a liberal Democrat. I suppose I have a weakness for such women.

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