Oprah for president? Really?
Apparently so, since the official NBC network Twitter account posted (although later deleted) a tweet anointing her as “OUR future president” after her impassioned speech at the Golden Globes about sexual harassment.
Meryl Streep, among the best actresses of a generation, was so smitten that she declared in an interview with the political newspaper The Hill that “now she doesn’t have a choice” but to run for leader of the free world.
I guess, for starters, that means she won’t be showing off those photos of herself smiling with her former pal Harvey Weinstein.
But yes, one rousing declaration of today’s version of sexual morality to an audience full of sexual libertines and she’s practically got the Democratic nomination. I mean, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — with her legislative work in the congressional trenches, with her fundraising for all the right causes, with her caustic tweets against President Donald Trump, with her constant rants about millionaires and billionaires and their “cronies” and standing up for the “hard-working” lower and middle class — is suddenly so boring, so bland, so lacking in celebrity, so last year.
But why the heck not? About 18 months ago, most people were saying, “Donald Trump for president? Really?”
And here we are.
So, let’s be done with members of either party claiming they have a problem with anything but serious, qualified candidates for president. The Dems tried that with the allegedly “most qualified candidate in history” — Hillary Clinton — and we all know how that turned out.
Still, to put the queen of daytime TV on the presidential campaign trail will take more than a bit of airbrushing of recent history. For more than a year now, we’ve been hearing nonstop that not only is Trump a bigot, a racist, a hater and a sexist, but also that he is a paranoid narcissist, mentally unstable and catastrophically unqualified to be president.
The “unqualified” part has some merit. Trump brings a resume that includes being a lowbrow TV entertainer, being born with several silver spoons in his mouth and a spotty record of success as a businessman.
But if Democrats are going to nominate Oprah Winfrey for president, they’re going to have to explain why it’s OK that her qualifications are as thin as Trump’s — in some ways even thinner.
Running for president, even in our era of shallow and short attention spans, is much more difficult than saying to an audience of screaming women, “You get a new car! You get a new car! Everybody gets a new car!”
Already, amid the rave reviews from the Golden Globes, came this tweet from Juanita Broaddrick: “Funny I’ve never heard you mention my name. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Guess not. My rapist was/is your friend, Bill Clinton.”
Yes, Winfrey has been an ongoing success as an entertainer and has become fabulously wealthy. (She’s a billionaire! Does that mean all her friends are her “cronies”?) She is probably in the top 10 of best-known celebrities in the country.
She knows how to deliver a speech, far better than Hillary ever did. She is beloved by the large majority of females in the U.S.
But there is considerable substance to criticism that she is also one of the all-time great purveyors of snake oil and quackery on television.
How about her anointment of Mehmet Oz as “America’s Doctor”? You know, the guy who acknowledges that the “miracle” cures he promotes on TV don’t have the “scientific muster to present as fact.”
What about frequent guest Dr. Christine Northrup, who has written about how she uses Tarot cards to diagnose her own ailments and who says diseases can be healed through the power of “right thinking”?
How are Democrats going to square that — and much more — with their constant declarations that they are the party that respects the “scientific consensus”?
Yes, the celebrity White House has been in the making for a while. As we all know, there are an increasing number of celebrities who have become governors or members of Congress whose major qualification was that they were famous.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was just a famous body builder and one-dimensional actor — until he was governor of California. Jesse Ventura became a star in the gloriously fraudulent “sport” of professional wrestling — until the voters of Minnesota thought that was good enough to elect him governor
And until he got caught up in the mass professional excommunication of any males accused of sexual harassment, Al Franken traded on his fame as a writer of dirty jokes and skits for “Saturday Night Live” to become a senator from Minnesota.
The reality is that these days, fewer and fewer people really care if a president is truly qualified or even has the temperament to hold the highest office in what once was the greatest country in the world.
The real power, as a number of political sages have observed, is in the U.S. Senate. And what is most important is to win. If that means electing an entertainer-in-chief, that’s fine as long as she’s from the right party, spouts the right slogans, has a measure of charisma and can make everybody feel good about themselves.
The professional bureaucrats can run the country, members of Congress like Minority (soon to be majority?) Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority (soon to be majority?) Leader Chuck Schumer can tell her who to put in her cabinet and who to nominate to be Supreme Court justices.
As long as they’re in power, they’d love a president who’s a puppet.
Oprah would most likely make a lousy president.
But that isn’t what matters any more.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at email@example.com