Somehow I’ve managed to get through the late 20th and early 21st century without paying attention to Oprah Winfrey for more than 45 seconds at a time. I respect her achievements as a
huckster businesswoman and a charlatan cultural force, and I don’t particularly dislike her personally, but I’m not buying what she’s selling and I really don’t care. Good for her, good for you if you like her, but I’m just not interested.
So I was a bit baffled when everybody started yammering about “Oprah for President” a few weeks ago. She gave a speech at the Golden Globes that I’m informed was nothing less than rousing, and suddenly, all the people who’ve been protesting a reality-TV president for the past year had a change of heart. They wanted their own reality-TV president. A president who all their friends like, and who would make them feel better about themselves at the ballot box.
Just imagine, the first female POTUS could be both black and likable. She’d be the anti-Hillary!
But that’s not going to happen if Oprah has anything to say about it. In an interview with InStyle magazine, she shut it right down. When asked if she’d ever consider running for president, she said: “I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it.”
You get a big bag of disappointment! And you get a big bag of disappointment! And you get a big bag of disappointment! [MANIACAL LAUGHTER]
Declaring oneself unsuited for the job at the genetic level seems… definitive. But hey, it’s politics, and “never” can mean pretty much anything. I hope she’ll reconsider. The definition of “presidential material” has been radically altered over the past 15 months, hasn’t it?
Plus, she owes it to her diehard fans. Like this lil’ fella:
Reality: Next year Oprah might feel compelled to run, or she might not. No one knows. In her convos with friends — some of whom are urging her to run — she hasn’t ruled it out. She acknowledged those convos to @laurabrown99 but also said, “I don’t have the DNA for it…”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 25, 2018
That is indeed the reality, Brian: She might, or she might not. Doesn’t get any realer than that.
It’s not really fair to blame Trump for the era of reality-show presidents, though. America ushered that in when we elected Obama. We didn’t care if he could actually do the job. We just wanted somebody who looked and sounded good. We wanted somebody who would tell us what we wanted to hear, in a pleasing way. After eight years of that guy, no wonder Trump thought he had a shot at it. How hard could it be, right?
So it shouldn’t be too surprising that people want Oprah to run for president. Or Ellen, or Whoopi, or Dr. Phil… Well, maybe not Dr. Phil. But if Obama and Donald could win, why couldn’t anybody else who does a lot of TV?
Plus, Gayle would make a great VP.
This is what we deserve. We had a chance to nominate and elect serious, capable, qualified people over the past decade, and we blew it. There’s no going back now. It’s nobody’s fault but our own if we end up getting President Oprah, or President Seacrest, or President Stern, or whoever.
If Oprah really has ruled it out, maybe somebody can write a TV drama where she plays the president. That way, everybody can get that wonderful feeling of seeing a warm, genuine person in the Oval Office without giving that person any actual responsibilities. It worked for Martin Sheen!