Oprah for President?

After delivering a powerful speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey is being touted as a potential Democratic Presidential candidate. In response, at least one liberal website – DailyKos – posted an article bashing her for allegedly supporting America’s destruction of Iraq beginning March 2003. It is true that she aired a program in October 2002 that was light on facts and heavy on pro-war propaganda.

But to Oprah’s credit in the months immediately preceding “Shock and Awe,” she gave significant television exposure to anti-war activists like Phil Donahue. She earned Michael Moore’s praise for televising a 1980s photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein’s hand.

In February 2003, Oprah did a 2-show series on the run-up to war. During the series, Winfrey told her audience that now was the time to speak out if they believed it would be wrong for Bush to launch an attack. The series included a debate between pro-peace activist Jessica Matthews and pro-war NYT columnist Thomas Friedman. At its conclusion Oprah “sided with Matthews” and against pro-war Friedman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprah%27s_Anti-war_series

I’m certainly not endorsing Oprah for President but I endorse the idea of her running for President. There is no obviously viable superior alternative, who is definitely running or likely to run, except arguably Bernie, and he will be 79 at the next inauguration.

There are concerns. The self-help philosophy she extols is unequal to the task of righting the economic wrongs that permeate our world. Only strong government action and aggressive policy changes will suffice.

She seems to have a soft-spot for phonies like Dr. Oz, “Dr. Phil”, and anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy. For me to feel genuinely comfortable with her as a candidate, I would need to see her distance herself publicly from these charlatans. We still don’t know where she stands on job-destroying trade deals, single-payer health care, higher taxes on the rich, i.e., herself, global warming and American imperialism.

All that said, she is an extraordinarily accomplished and charitable women. The child of a housekeeper, she nevertheless made it to the top of an incredibly competitive field dominated by white men from affluent families. Oprah’s rough childhood, including her having been abused by a family member, may have given her more personal insight into the plight of the poor, people of color, and women in America than any Presidential candidate ever I daresay.

Given her history, her remarkable business acumen, her compassion, and the bravery she showed in taking on (kinda) the media elites who were stampeding for war in 2002-03, Oprah could prove to be a great President in the mold of kind but steely Eleanor Roosevelt.

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3 Responses to Oprah for President?

  1. Jeff Linder says:

    Wow, her list of credentials are impressive. Where does her exposure of Donald Rumsfeld fall on the list? One, Two or Three? Let’s not forget Hal, she owns more homes than you’re comfortable with. But then so does Bernie Sanders.

  2. Daniel DeCamp says:

    A very nicely written piece, Hal. There’s nothing in it for me to argue with you.

    My overall feeling is that I don’t want to see a trend or a change in our politics in which celebrities are overly favored by an electorate inordinately exposed to pop culture and not well informed on public policy.

    Oprah’s a great and very accomplished human being and I think her influence on American culture has mostly been positive. Her personal story does give her a very special insight that could perhaps translate into good public policy. But, like you, I don’t know enough about her policy positions and the direction she’d like to take the country. I also don’t know if she has good enough administrative skills and the political acumen to make a good president.

    I had those same doubts about Barak Obama until I saw about halfway through his campaign in 2008 how well it was being run and where and how he wanted to lead the country.

    As for Bernie Sanders: I would have no reservations whatsoever in supporting him again as long as he made a wise choice of running mate. I know of no health problems he has despite his age. I’d have more reservations in supporting an overweight guy like Chris Christie. Obviously, that wouldn’t be my only reason to not support Christie as I’m sure you know.

  3. halginsberg says:

    Thanks Daniel!

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