Oprah Winfrey made a great Golden Globes’ speech. She deserves credit for that. But to encourage her to run for president based on a stirring speech in a room-full of Hollywood luminaries is absurd.
Or is it?
Oprah “would not be the first relatively inexperienced political figure tilted toward the Oval Office by a well-delivered speech.”
For example, “in 2004, Barack Obama, then a 42-year-old state senator from Illinois, brought tears to many watching the Democratic National Convention with his uniquely American story” that “began with a Kenyan father who ‘grew up herding goats’ and climaxed four years after that speech “with Obama’s election as president.”
Oprah also has a powerful, personal story. Hers begins with a mother who came home “bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses” to an impressionable young daughter watching TV. On that small screen, Oprah witnessed the spectacle of a black man — an impossibly elegant Sidney Poitier — winning, for the first time ever, the best actor Academy Award. Her heart filled with joy and wonder.
About the same time, Fred Trump was finishing his sprawling apartment complex in Queens, “the jewel in the crown of his middle-class housing empire,” as The New York Times described it. Oprah’s mother would not have been welcomed there. Indeed, while Oprah was drawing inspiration from Poitier, Fred’s son Donald was learning the art of banning black applicants from his father’s properties.
In many ways, Oprah is the anti-Trump, and not just because Trump properties once excluded people who look like her. Whereas Trump reeks of self-centered smugness, Oprah exudes empathy and humility. And the difference doesn’t end there. Oprah comes free of self-absorbed children and distracting, crazy hair. And she knows how to stay on message.
Also, while Trump sees the press as the enemy (earlier this week arguing for legal changes to make it easier to sue publications he deems dishonest), Oprah sees the press as a check on governmental abuse: “To tyrants and victims … I want to say that I value the press more than ever.”
So “why shouldn’t she be president?”
Well, because the most important question is not whether Oprah could be a better president than Donald Trump. Even a political incompetent could meet that standard. The more relevant questions are: Do we need another glitzy, audacious amateur? And would she be a better president than such rising stars as Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand or former housing secretary Julián Castro? Or than such figures as Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren?
And as “Trump has proved, celebrity glibness and glitter don’t mean there is gold in their promises. There is more likely disappointment. And why would Oprah want to be a party to that?”