Wednesday, January 10, 2018

On "President Oprah"

At this point it should go without saying that it could happen. If Oprah decided to run she would (a) enjoy an edge over other celebrity aspirants and (b) offer the Democrats a way out of their own internal civil war that would not involve the hard work of picking a platform and running on it.

People laughing at the idea of an Oprah-administration should not underestimate how powerful those two things are: the will to win is a powerful thing and Oprah, arguably, would provide that. We should understand that a huge--if hard to quantify--part of the presidency is the wielding of charisma. The taller candidate has an edge. The more handsome candidate usually has an edge. The ability to look good and connect on TV is a significant driver--policy is for the wonks.

The have-a-beer-with test is a real thing.

Women across the spectrum would love to have a mimosa with Oprah, avers The Omnivore. The Omnivore feels pretty safe in that analysis too.

The Shoulder Angel

Trump won the GOP nomination and then--barely--the presidency. He did this, however, despite representing the most troublesome part of the GOP. He represented the inchoate insurgency against the imaginary swamp (notably: no one who hates the swamp can figure out what to replace it with, save for grand culture-war gestures of vanishingly little merit. Attempts to replace it with 'real conservatives' give us people like Roy Moore).

He appealed strongly to the racists--and to the ethno-nationalists for whom making America great again hearkened back to a time when the military didn't allow transgendered troops and gays couldn't marry--and it was okay to say "nigger."

Worse, for party unity, Trump held no deep conservative vision. He felt that women should be punished for seeking abortions--a view that while reasonably logical was at odds with decades of careful positioning for the Pro-Life community. He claimed religiosity--while clearly understanding none of it. He had "secret plans" to defeat ISIS and would end Obamacare and replace it with something great.

And so on--and so on. For deep conservative thinkers he was the parody of what Democrats said conservatives were: shallow, racist, and mean.

Oprah, on the other hand, probably has a similar depth of policy ideas (The Omnivore shudders to think of what her foreign policy would consist of) but in terms of appeal she is the "shoulder angel" to Trump's shoulder-devil.

She isn't mean. She would enjoy bi-partisan and cross-racial support. She is hawkish enough not to alienate moderates on both sides of the aisle (she apparently had reasonable support for the Iraq war). She has great oration skills and empathy. In short, she presents a caricature of the centrist idea of a candidate (albeit one with no governance experience).

So she provides a medium-cooked-steak to Trump's bloody, raw one.

This is exactly the kind of get-out-of-jail-free card the Democrats would love to have--and presently don't. There is no ideal candidate in their roster. There are some young guns who are too young (and hated by the Bernie-base). There are a bunch of old hands who are way too old. 

There's Bernie Sanders.

The Omnivore would probably vote Oprah over Sanders if it somehow came to it.

:: shudder ::

One more thing . . .

Oprah Upsets All The "Right People"

Don't, erm, misunderestimate the power of political office as a tool for cultural vengeance--that was arguably Trump's biggest appeal. Oprah would be the converse: the serious misogynists would certainly hate her. The racists would hate her--but she isn't a hairy-arm-pitted lesbian feminist burning her bra while shouting "HASHTAG-YES-ALL-MENZ!!"

She isn't a Black-Lives-Matter rioter.

Sanders voters would hate her because she isn't Bernie and isn't a self-professed socialist.

Part of Oprah's appeal to the center also means she would be an anathema to the fringes--that is just "how these things work" but it's also a point of appeal to the people who would be considering her nomination. The fact that she would strongly appeal to voters "in the center" (meaning the vast hordes of voters who have muddy ideas about policy and are making choices based on limited intellectual contact with the political process) would, The Omnivore thinks, mean she strongly antagonizes the outer edges.

That's a selling point right there if you're the right (or, uhm, wrong) kind of person.

So Will She Do It?

Good question--but as much as The Omnivore hates making predictions, there is little reason to ask a question on a blog no one reads without coming down somewhere. So The Omnivore comes down here:

  1. She Runs - She is one of the most accomplished people in the world. You don't get there without ambition and drive. She doesn't seem old and dried up and bored. The American presidency is a great mountain to climb. The Omnivore holds she tries to climb it.
  2. She Has A Good Chance of Winning The Nomination - She will be running against people like Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, and so on. Do you know all those names well? No? Well then--that's part of the test right there.
  3. In The General She Has as Good A Chance As Anyone - Let's be real, folks--the press would love her. Like, "Obama-who??" levels of love. Assuming that it's Oprah v Trump (which is likely--Trump could be primaried or indicted--but these are marginal chances) then it's a real showdown--with the exception that Trump polls in the 30's right now and it seems unlikely that Hillary voters would cross over to Trump instead of Winfrey.  She might even get Obama to campaign for her.
  4. President Oprah - IT HAS COME TO THIS
Will this happen? Man, The Omnivore hopes not--but the above scenario is not the path of "greatest resistance."


  1. I feel pedantically obliged to point out that Trump allegedly likes his steaks extremely well done and covered in ketchup.

    1. I know, I know--I thought of that when I typed it. But still--the *metaphor*, man--the *metaphor*!!

    2. True, true....his metaphorical steak is raw and bloody, but his literal steak is burnt and ketchup covered. I wake up each morning wondering if the news story of the day is that Trump was found dead with a chunk of cheeseburger or steak lodged in his throat, but the Secret Service failed to respond in time due to their Russian hooker party.