I missed the Golden Globes, but I couldn’t escape Oprah’s Golden Globes speech. It littered my Facebook feed. It was on the news. Many of my liberal friends posted it with breathless captions: “Is she running?” “Oprah 2020!” “Oprah, please, we need you!”
To all this I say: Oprah, please don’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Oprah. I’ve caught her show from time to time, delighted by her mix of savvy and folksiness. I appreciate what she did for books with her book club. I love her story, her rise from poverty into one of the richest women in the world. She’s likable, smart, and clearly means well.
That doesn’t mean she’d make a good president.
There’s no questioning that she is a smart. The empire she’s built (a real, actual, successful empire) is proof of that. She’s made a lot of great choices, has what from all accounts seems like an incredible work ethic, and seems to really care about people. I am so glad Oprah exists in the world. Do I want her in the Oval Office? Not really, no.
One of my biggest complaints about Trump supporters is that they put aside the standards we’d established for politicians with a casual, “Eh, let’s see what happens.” No foreign policy experience? No problem! He’ll wing it. No understanding of the workings of government? So what! It could probably stand a shake-up. The fall-out from this cavalier attitude continues to rain down upon us. Allies insulted. A flirtation with nuclear war over the size of his “button.” An administration running roughshod over conventions and policies painstakingly put together over generations.
Not that I think Oprah would be a Trump-level catastrophe. She’d probably be more thoughtful. She’d most likely surround herself with better advisors. She’d stay off Twitter. She’d string a coherent sentence together. But she simply does not have the experience in governance that should be expected from the leader of the United States, with our massive military, our complex budget and our very real social ills. Experience matters. Preparation matters. Just because Trump voters threw caution to the wind with a cavalier “what’s the worst that can happen,” it doesn’t mean that Democrats should follow suit, lured by the siren song of celebrity.
Even before getting to governing, there’s the campaign to consider. Sure, Oprah is beloved today. That’s because the Republican grime machine hasn’t aimed itself at her yet. Once you’ve got lobbying groups going over every public utterance of hers (and there are so, so many), what picture would emerge? Would she defend the fact that she gave Jenny McCarthy a platform to push her anti-vaccine book? Would she be able to stand by every claim she’s promoted on her show, the bioidentical hormone craze, the “superfoods,” the new fad diets? What’s quirky and interesting in a show could take on an entirely different look in the context of a presidential vetting. It would most likely be brutal.
Oprah is a grown, capable woman, and the choice is her own. She’d certainly bring an impressive arsenal to her campaign. I, for one, would prefer to be spared a “celebrity death match” presidential campaign, however. I think our country has been through enough. Let’s be done with eschewing policy wonks and career politicians. Let’s be done with chasing the shiny. Let’s find someone utterly boring but brilliantly qualified, and let’s right this ship.
I hope Oprah will interview him. (Or her!). I’ll certainly watch that.