Vanity Fair is going all out with an issue largely dedicated to "A Portrait of World Power." The November issue features a stunning 58-page portfolio of the 65 men and the few - four to be exact - women who, in the magazine's judgment, "rule and shape today's global policies."
The editors sent forth the biggest team of photographers ever assembled for the publication, including Lord Snowdon, Annie Leibovitz, Harry Benson and Jonathan Becker. The photos are pretty spiffy and quite remote from the conventional head-of-state-style posed portraits usually seen of such people.
The lineup is really something - you hate to think of the logistics, to say nothing of the time involved in getting these high-powered folks to sit still for their pictures. Of course, not quite every power player was agreeable to sitting. China's president, Jiang Zemin, said he'd pose for the portfolio - but only on condition that the magazine not run a portrait of the Dalai Lama, symbol of resistance to the ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet. The choice was an easy one, says Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter. Michael O'Neill's portrait of the Dalai Lama graces page 252, while an unposed press shot of Mr. Zemin is on page 246.
For the statistical side of things, among the 65 mighty beings are 14 billionaires (Bill Gates leads the pack with $38 billion); those four women (Madeleine Albright, Queen Elizabeth II, Katharine Graham and Mary Robinson); 23 heads of state (including Fidel Castro, who posed and has, we learn, a personal income of $1.3 billion accumulated in his 30 years as dictator of Cuba); two kings, four spiritual leaders and 23 corporate chairmen or chief executive officers, nine lawyers, eight holders of doctorates and two with master's degrees in business administration.
Wrapped around the pictures is lengthy text by that aging gadfly Gore Vidal on "America, the Last Empire." It's studded with little waspish asides, such as a reference to the FBI as a "spy network, whose secret agent, Ronald Reagan, president of the Screen Actors Guild, had come into his splendid own, fingering better actors."
The New Yorker in its Oct. 20 and 27 issue also is weighing in heavily. Editor Tina Brown has oriented the singularly hefty 270-page issue to the future in a big way. One of the most interesting, indeed downright intriguing, articles is by Henry Louis Gates Jr. on "The Next President." As the subtitle in the table of contents puts it: "The woman who is better at tea and sympathy than Bill Clinton." Yes, you guessed it: Elizabeth Dole for president in 2000.
Mr. Gates quotes pollster Frank Luntz as saying, "Her style is perfect for the GOP in the next decade - it's Reaganesque, optimistic, down-to-earth." And Dick Morris, who in his time has had as clients such solid Republicans as Trent Lott, Jesse Helms and Dan Coates, says if he were Mrs. Dole's adviser, he'd tell her to run. "I think she could …