Friday, January 12, 2018

Oprah Winfrey? REALLY?

Oprah 2020: Do we need another glitzy amateur in office?

If being a watchable TV personality selling fantasy qualifies one to be president, we might as well prepare ourselves for the Kardashian dynasty.

Oprah Winfrey’s stirring Golden Globes’ speech electrified America and left some of her closest friends hinting she just might run for president. I, for one, hope she doesn’t.
She would not be the first relatively inexperienced political figure tilted toward the Oval Office by a well-delivered speech. 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. It began with a Kenyan father who “grew up herding goats.” Four years after that speech, the story climaxed 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.
The most beautiful part of Oprah’s Sunday speech was her message about ordinary people. She sang the praises of domestics, farm workers, laborers, waiters, athletes and soldiers. Oprah does that extremely well. She helps people see the potential and beauty in themselves and in others; and in helping us to see that, she elevates us all. She is bigger than this silly notion that only she, or some other celebrity, can lead us to paradise — or even should try.
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?
Ellis Cose, a member of the Board of Contributors of USA TODAY, is the author of The End of Anger and The Rage of a Privileged Class. He is working on An Uneasy Conscience, a hundred-year history of the ACLU and civil liberties in America. Follow him on Twitter @EllisCose.
Photo: Mike Nelson, epa/EFE

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