An annual calendar highlights conservative women, dressed in outfits as off-putting as their "politically incorrect" ideology.
Kellyanne Conway in the 2009 calendar. Photo by KochFoto for Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute's "Pretty in Mink" 2009 Calendar in 2008, cblpi.org
Kellyanne Conway has developed a reputation for behaving more like a petty drag queen than a counselor to the White House. She allegedly punched a man at an Inauguration Ball, rambled about "alternative facts," and received an offer to join the Real Housewives franchise. She reached new heights of camp just last week, when commentators spotted a photo of Conway wearing a blue, hooded mink coat on a mantle in her living room during a televised interview.
Even more ridiculous is that Conway participated in several of these conservative women calendar spreads between 2009 and 2012, including a shoot of Conway and Phyllis Schlafly wearing matching jeans and white button-down shirts. Every year, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute (CBLPI) commissions the calendars, filling them with glamor shots of famous conservative women like Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin.
Recent years have revolved around themes like 2012's "Life Outside the Spotlight," which shows political columnists Michelle Malkin playing the piano and SE Cupp eating a hot dog. (Of her personal hobbies, Coulter told the CBLPI, "Taking a break from my non-stop schedule of writing columns and books, giving speeches at universities, and weekly appearances on all the major TV news networks, I sometimes pause to reflect on just how much I despise [Obama-appointed Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano.")
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CBLPI publishes the calendars to raise money for the nonprofit, which Michelle Easton founded in 1993 after serving in the Reagan and first Bush White Houses. "We are an organization that prepares and supports women leaders," Easton says in a phone call. "We make them stronger, better conservatives. We use successful conservative women as role models."
She named the organization after the late Connecticut congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce, whom Easton points out professors rarely teach in women's studies classes. Luce led a varied life. She combated Democrats in Congress, but also worked as the managing editor of Vanity Fair magazine, posed in Vogue, and authored the play The Women, which later became a hit Joan Crawford movie. Like Fox News's femme fatale pundits, she mixed right wing politics with a brand of femininity associated with women's magazines. At the 1948 Republican National Convention, she wore suede flat shoes and labeled her ideological opponent, the Progressive Party's 1948 presidential candidate Henry Wallace, as "Stalin's Mortimer Snerd."
CBLPI employees decided to create calendars in 2004 while they gathered at a male donor's house to watch the Helen Mirren chick flick Calendar Girls, which tells the story of Women's Institute members who raise money by posing nude in a calendar. "[The donor] had the idea (we let him think it was his) that we should do a calendar," explains former CBLPI program director Lisa De Pasquale in an email. "[For the 2005 and 2006 calendars], I did it on the cheap with the photos they provided or we took from events."
After De Pasquale departed from the organization, budgets increased. 2008's themed edition envisions a new tabloid magazine called Smart. "Instead of, say, Paris Hilton gracing the cover in all her vacant glory, you see Star Parker or Michelle Malkin modeling the latest professional styles," Easton writes in the introduction. In a reminiscent of US Weekly's layout, controversial scholar Christina Hoff Sommers poses next to a quote: "A feminist uses statistics like a fish uses a bicycle."
CBLPI settled on a "Pretty in Mink" theme for 2009. "It was special," Easton says. Miller's Furs, a store in a Virginia mall, loaned mink coats for the shoot, and the 2009 calendar marked Conway's modeling debut. "She's an incredible role model," Easton explains of Conway's appeal. "She's the only woman to win a campaign. She's married!" CBLPI refers to her as the "Queen of Polling" in Conway's Miss January spread, and she wears her now infamous "navy sheared beaver jacket with fox trim and detachable hood."
A Paul Mitchell makeup artist transformed Conway into what was supposed to be a 1930s movie star but instead looks like Conway posing as Madonna posing as Jean Harlow. For a page dedicated to the "making of" the calendar, CBLPI interns were asked to capture "memorable moments" from the various models. Conway's quote reads, "'There it is!' — Kellanne [sic] Conway upon discovering her cell phone in the pocket of the mink coat she had been modeling."
"We took your some of your favorite leaders of today's conservative movement on a journey back in time, and made them up into glamorous movie stars of classic Hollywood," Easton writes in the calendar. "Back when the big screen was a little more glamorous, women were a little more feminine, the men a little more charming—and the world a little less politically correct."
Like 1930s Hollywood films, few women of color appear in the calendar. As you would expect, their captions aren't exactly politically correct: CBLPI calls Urban Renewal and Education founder Star Parker "a former welfare mother who turned her life around," and author Nonie Darwish "an Egyptian-born ex-Muslim who renounced Jihad for America."
Of all the conservatives, Coulter looks the most natural in mink. She stares up into the sky and holds her coat over her shoulder, flashing a diamond ring. When asked about the backstory of the photo shoot with Conway, Coulter says in an email, "There is no backstory, except I was the only one wearing my own mink."
Conway's White House office declined to comment, and Conway herself did not return Broadly's request for a response.
For the next year's shoot, 12 right wing women posed in matching jeans and white button-downs. In the back cover, which appears to look photoshopped, Conway stands between Schlafly and Coulter. "[Conway] was pregnant! God bless her, she still looked good," Easton recalls. "You had Kellyanne and then Phyllis Schlafly. She's dead now."
The 2013 calendar, however, took a laid back approach, framing a yearbook-style portrait of Conway below a picture of a New Hampshire log cabin draped in an American flag. Between the rustic photo and Conway is a famous Luce quote that would make a good epitaph for Conway's tombstone: "Politicians talk themselves red, white, and blue into the face."