Oprah Winfrey delivered a compelling speech at the Golden Globes, that will hopefully inspire a generation. To be honest, watching it on YouTube I teared up.
But a run for the White House would be a bad idea. Let me list the reasons.
--she has no clear policy positions on most of the issues.
--she has never gone through a political campaign before. While I’m sure she works incredibly hard, I can think of nothing as grueling as an extended political campaign (including running a marathon, which is over in one day). It would be like doing a six months-long sprint, with no training beforehand.
--she has never run a political organization, and this would be the largest, most complex one in politics.
--related to the last two: a campaign reaches a point of exhaustion when it gets to the final stages. Both the candidate and/or their spokespersons start to say silly things. There is no sense of how this would affect her or his campaign.
--she’s as vulnerable as any other Democrat. Those who think, “This is different. Everybody loves Oprah,” are wrong. In less than twenty-four hours after her speech, an attack image was already out there: two frames of a young blond female (looks a little like Reese Witherspoon). Left/first side: 2016. Looks depressed. Caption: Being a Billionaire TV Star Doesn’t Qualify You for President! Right/second side: 2018. Looks excited. Caption: Oprah Winfrey Should Run for President!
A solidly pro-Oprah columnist in the Washington Post still cited her television appeal as a pitch for “magical thinking.” An article in the LA Times pointed out how, “Thousands of hours of video, some never seen by the public, would instantly become fodder for attacks.” Conservatives are already posting pictures of Oprah at celebrity events, laughing with Harvey Weinstein.
--she has no preparation for the job, has never, for example, worked with a legislature and tried to get a bill passed. The same Washington Post piece argued, “Being president isn’t like hosting a talk show or running a media brand. Oprah’s success in her field is no more indicative of her potential to be a good president than Trump’s success in real estate was.”
On this subject, the New York Times reported, “Prominent House Republicans stepped forward on Wednesday with a vision of immigration policy that clashed fiercely with President Trump’s recent overtures of bipartisanship and highlighted how difficult it will be for Congress and the president to reach accord in the coming weeks.”
Oprah is a tremendously gifted speaker and a caring person. I see her role as championing a cause or a candidate. Martin King was majestic leading a movement, not running for office.
My sense is that this is a giddy bubble that will not last. If it does, that would be very bad, especially for Democratic candidates. A New York Times writer, who started his piece by extolling, “a beautiful performance by an inspiring woman”, went on to lambast the idea of a presidential run, and a party that would consider it. “If liberals no longer pride themselves on being the adults in the room, the bulwark against the whims of the mob, our national descent into chaos will be complete. ….The idea that the presidency should become just another prize for celebrities — even the ones with whose politics we imagine we agree — is dangerous in the extreme.”