The takeaway from the ever-increasing self-congratulation fest going on in Hollywood, the latest installment of which was the Golden Globes, is that for some reason people are trying to make Oprah Winfrey 2020 a thing. I actually picked her out about a year ago in my second installment of the Democrat bench as someone whose name was likely to come up and what I thought of her chances.
At that point my assessment was that I didn’t think she would be willing to take the pay cut, nor did I think she would be willing to subject herself to the kind of criticism that would come along with entering the political sphere. Right now Oprah Winfrey is harmless feelgood popcorn Hollywood, appealing to people on either side of the political spectrum and projecting this larger-than-life personality that in pretty much anyone else would rightly be ripped and maligned as borderline toxic in its narcissism. If she entered the political arena, however, all that comfortable and easy middle-of-the-road type stuff combined with her you-go-girl mild-intensity feminism would be stripped away by critics on both sides. Middle America and the GOP (and with them a not insignificant number of the cheesecake-eating housewives who form Oprah’s fan base) would stop playing nice and start looking seriously at what she actually stands for, while the crazier-by-the-day Democrats would actually latch on and pull her as hard as they could to the left to try to shake her corporate celebrity image and court the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. If you look at anything this woman has done, from her talk show to her book club to her flippin’ Weight Watchers commercials, this is not a celebrity who thrives on controversy and not someone who will do well with being attacked. I really don’t think she’s going to go for it (though she’s going to love the hell out of people like Meryl Streep suggesting it for a few days).
My prediction from way back when was that if she did seek the Democratic nomination, she’d probably get it. Still true. As for how she would do in the general election, my forecast was contingent on how President Trump did between now and then, and right now President Trump is nailing it despite the best efforts of La Resistance and the fake news to stop him at every turn. Seriously, the man is at 43% approval by even the fake news’ biased polls, which is exactly where Whatshisname was at this point in his first term. Add in the fact that Whatshisname faced precisely no opposition from his party, the opposition party, or the media, whereas President Trump didn’t get so much as the traditional “honeymoon” period and has had to fight for every inch of ground he’s gained, and we see that President Trump is delivering all the winning he promised. Right now, in a fair fight, I don’t see President Trump as beatable. Whether it will be a fair fight is another question entirely (but my Magic 8-Ball isn’t optimistic about that).
Putting aside President Trump’s strengths and the
possibility likelihood of Democratic vote fraud shenanigans again in 2020, and assessing the strength of Oprah Winfrey as a candidate, I have to say that if she did go for it, she’d make me nervous. I’m going to be nervous no matter what because the left now knows that four million bogus votes more or less randomly scattered in deep blue country aren’t enough so they’re going to have to cheat harder next time, but just on the attributes of the potential candidates they could field I’d be more concerned about her than many other possibilities. People are pointing out that Oprah Winfrey lacks experience or background in a lot of relevant areas like economics and foreign policy in particular, and they’re right–in a rational world, it makes complete sense to elect a businessman but no sense whatsoever to elect a talk show hostess.
They miss the point that that doesn’t matter. At all. It didn’t matter for Whatshisname, a junior senator without even a full term under his belt who rode a wave of faux celebrity and a “historic” campaign based entirely on his skin color into the White House. Likewise it won’t matter for Oprah, except that she’ll be bringing actual celebrity to the table. If you still think the Democrats pick their candidates based on policy positions and experience then I’m sorry but you haven’t been paying attention–they get to Washington and all vote in lock-step, and if anything, real-world experience is a hindrance to them. It plainly has nothing to do with how they govern. For God’s sake, even now if you asked your average Democrat why they voted for Whatshisname in ’08 or ’12 their answer would as likely as not be “’cause he was black.” The man had precisely zero other qualifications (along with precisely zero skeletons in his closet, which made him unique among Democrats especially in Illinois).
The biggest weakness I can see in an Oprah candidacy is not policy related at all. It’s her age and youth appeal. I know the teenaged fans of her talk show and movie career grew up to be the moms and grandmas of today’s millennials and probably subscribed to her cable channel and read her book club selections and sang her praises to their mush-skulled soy boy/third wave feminist offspring, but really, other than Weight Watchers commercials, awards show appearances, and magazines in the tabloid racks that are all about her, does she really connect with the precious “youth vote?” I’m not sure. I wouldn’t count it out but if you want to figure out the angle to attack from, that’s where to hit. Policy is irrelevant, all that matters is the D by her name as far as her supporters will be concerned. Her celebrity will be everything, and I’m not so sure the Bernie wing of the party will be eager to jump on board with an aging self-absorbed corporate shill multimillionaire, even if she is completely gender and race appropriate.
As it stands right now, in a Trump vs. Winfrey race, I’d call it for Trump, but not nearly by enough to get past the margin of fraud. Again, that’s a talk for another time, I just hope Team Trump already has plans in motion to deal with that.