The Miss America pageant made history Sunday night: Miss New York Nina Davuluri was crowned the first Indian-American Miss America. The contest also included the first tattooed competitor, Miss Kansas Theresa Vail (who won the online "America's choice" award).
But there was also a nod to tradition: Miss America returned to storm-battered Atlantic City for the first time in six years, for example. And, like always, there was one answer in the Q&A section that stood out. This time, however, the response, from Miss California Crystal Lee, is getting high marks — in foreign policy circles, no less. (Watch above)
Daniel Drezner is an international relations professor at Tufts and a blogger for Foreign Policy. Jim Pethokoukis is a conservative economic policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute:
OMG, someone is asking Miss California a question on Syria... and she didn't answer it that badly.— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) September 16, 2013
Oh, please, you know she's going to Fox News. RT @jimpethokoukis Miss California, we have a spot for you at AEI— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) September 16, 2013
Hunter Schwarz at BuzzFeed says that content-wise, Lee's speech was strikingly similar to President Obama's Sept. 10 televised address to the nation. At the end of his very BuzzFeed-y comparison, Schwarz notes, dryly: "Miss California's answer was 17 seconds long. And Obama's was just over 15 minutes."
Miss California was clearer. MT @hunterschwarz Miss America contestants answers about Syria remind me a lot of Obama's answers about Syria.— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) September 16, 2013
David O'Shaughnessy at Ireland's Entertainment.ie agrees with Drezner. Lee, he says approvingly, "you just answered a question on international politics in a shorter time and better than your own president." That makes her a great antidote to the idea that "each and every contestant in a beauty pageant was a vapid idiot with barely any education or a hold on the English language," he says.
Lee didn't win, despite the strength of her answer — or her well-received ballet routine — but she did take first runner-up, making her next in line to the throne should Davuluri ever have to abdicate. Lee, 22, is a Stanford grad who started her run to runner-up as Miss Silicon Valley. You might have guessed that from her pre-taped introduction at the Miss American pageant:
"Tweet me, like me, text me! Streaming to you from Silicon Valley, I'm Crystal Lee, Miss California."
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