The media swoon over the possibility that TV megastar
Oprah Winfrey might run for president in 2020 will pass,
but it should not deter us from making some valuable
observations about the now unfolding U.S. political
environment of 2018 and immediately beyond.
First, the Democrats have no credible leadership “bench”
(a term from competitive sports) ahead --- other than
some aging men and women now in their early to late 70s.
Second, Republicans and conservatives need not throw up
their arms in feigned shock. Donald Trump was no less a
TV celebrity in 2015 --- and far less popular than Ms.
Winfrey is now. The Donald did have a successful business
career as well, but so does the celebrated Oprah who rose
from poverty to become a major media tycoon in her own
Third, Ms. Winfrey is apparently mainstream liberal, and
has already been denounced by the Bernie Sanders wing of
her party as not radical enough to lead the 2020 ticket.
Should she indeed run, it would likely not be an easy
coronation, but instead it would likely be a down-and-dirty
primary state-by-primary state battle for control of her
party and its presidential ticket.
Fourth, we don’t yet know where Ms. Winfrey stands on
many if not most of the controversial issues of the day.
Her liberal social views might be known, but most of her
economic and foreign policy views have yet to be aired.
Fifth, if the 2016 campaign taught us anything, it is not to
dismiss prematurely a celebrity candidacy, especially such
a well-known, well-liked personality as Oprah Winfrey.
On the other hand, should she take the current media
swoon to the next level, Ms. Winfrey has to make some very
hard choices. As I have said, she could not win her party’s
nomination without a likely bitter fight that would
microscopically examine her personal and business life.
At some point, once she made a decision, she would have
to remove herself from her entertainment business on the
air. Once a candidate, she would have to submit herself to a
punishing schedule of travel and appearances. Most of all,
she would have to transform her show business acumen into
smart political strategy and choices --- while at the same
time surrounding herself with savvy advisors.
It can be done. It has been done. It would be a fascinating
match-up in 2020.
But for now, it is more of a revelation about the political
leadership vulnerability of the Democratic Party.
Let’s see where the inevitable political second-thoughts
take this story.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.