Oprah gives a phenomenal speech

At the Golden Globes award last night, she gave a wonderfully passionate speech and said a lot of the things we need to hear right now.

That was excellent and beautifully presented — she is a professional actor, and a good one, but I am confident that this was more than a well-polished oration, and that she really feels what she said from the heart.

That said, though, I was dismayed to see the tag #Oprah2020 pop up everywhere, and people talking about having her run for president. Are we so shallow that we now see a TV personality — a rich, eminently successful TV and movie star — as sufficient qualification for the job of president? Have we learned nothing from Trump? Oprah has an inspiring message and can actually speak in complete sentences, which puts her light years ahead of our current senile clown, but it is a job that really does require experience and skills and knowledge that Oprah does not have.

If she wants to serve in government, let her run for a state office, and then as a national representative, and then I’ll perk up when she announces a run for the head of the executive branch. No shortcuts. Bring back the cursus honorum!


  1. kalilchernov says

    I’m also really uncomfortable with voting for the mother of the modern anti-vax movement.

  2. taraskan says

    Please holy fuck no. Oprah has peddled pseudoscience and pan-spiritualist nonsense on her shows and books for decades. An Oraph-led democratic ticket is just about the only way we don’t take back the WH.

  3. Dunc says

    Are we so shallow that we now see a TV personality — a rich, eminently successful TV and movie star — as sufficient qualification for the job of president?

    Only if no used-car salesmen or disgraced former televangelists are available.

    Have we learned nothing from Trump?

    Plenty. Oh, you meant good things? Sorry…

    Not to mention that would legitimize the presidency as a billionaires-only club.

    Don’t worry about that – very few billionaires want the job, any more than they want to clean their own pools. They generally prefer to hire other people do that sort of thing.

  4. Ragutis says

    While I do admire Ms Winfrey for a number of things, and am reasonably confident she would surround herself with the best minds available to advise her, one scary thought keeps creeping into my mind… Surgeon General Oz.

  5. Ed Seedhouse says

    SC@7:“A NEW DAY IS ON THE HORIZON” might be a workable slogan for the Democrats.”

    To we ancients the horizon is a long way away – further than I could walk in a day. Unfortunately the ancients slightly younger than I seem to reliably vote for crazy people in large numbers despite the observable fact that these crazy people hurt them badly.

  6. Ed Seedhouse says

    Also, no matter how fast you drive the horizon remains in the distance perpetually.

  7. antigone10 says

    If the qualification for president is now that they “inspire people” and have a perfectly clean voting record, we’re going to get celebrities. We could do far worse than Oprah.

  8. Helen Huntingdon says

    Obama was horrifically underqualified when he first ran, but he could give dazzling public performances. I remember at the time, I simply could not figure out what he actually stood for, because I didn’t count content of speeches or campaign promises, other than noting he wasn’t afraid to invoke misogyny to win his primary.

    Trump is the price of telling the country that a dazzling star without adequate qualifications will make a dandy president. The Dems have no one to blame but themselves.

  9. Ragutis says

    @ Helen Huntingdon: While Obama was a relatively fresh politician, he did have a substantial history of public service, edited the Harvard Law Review, and was a friggin Constitutional scholar, FFS. And IMHO, he did quite a job proving that he was qualified during his tenure. Trump, allegedly, was yawning by the time his briefing on the Constitution got to the 4th Amendment.

  10. lakitha tolbert says

    I’m also uncomfortable with the Oprah2020 hashtag, because just like the Michelle Obama one, it smacks once again, of the idea that Black women will save this country from itself, when that’s not what we’re here for.

  11. unclefrogy says

    #14 that is as maybe but it sure would be fun watching the not racist-misogynist republican party go into orbit if she did manage to get elected.

  12. says

    Hmmm. Marcus Ranum mentioned that it’s possible to include images in comments, and I guess it is, at least for the blog author. I don’t think regular commenters are allowed to use the tag, though, so you may not get to do this. Which would be a good thing, since I can imagine the chaotic hell comment threads could become.

  13. Helen Huntingdon says

    @Ragutis Yes, he had *some* qualifications, but nowhere near what seems even remotely reasonable for someone who wants to be president. A critical issue was public voting history — he effectively made sure he had none. His brief time in the Senate he spent mostly voting “present”. Anyone who wanted to find out who he really was by checking his record in elected office, the most sound way to find out whether his speeches were just fluff or what he really thought, found out that you couldn’t tell who he really was by his voting record in office. It was a mess.

    It was really hard not to sob in relief in 2008 over the prospect of a president who could actually read a speech, so I do get why his speech performances made people downright giddy. But speeches aren’t enough reason to make someone president. And yet, the precedent was set. And now we’re living with the result.

  14. antigone10 says

    @Helen Huntingdon
    Speeches have been enough to make someone president for a long time. Unless you think people voted for W. because of his tenure as a governor.

  15. whywhywhy says

    #12 Helen Huntingdon: Please list or link to the misogyny. Also, if the comparison is between Clinton and Obama as to experience. Clinton has more general experience but is also older, meanwhile Obama had more experience in elected office.
    Obama (as of 2008)
    – served three terms as a state Senator: 1997-2004
    – served 4 years as a US Senator: elected 2004

    Clinton (as of 2008)
    – served 8 years as a US Senator: elected 2000

    Then the question is how to weigh the other experiences such as Clinton being First Lady (of US and Arkansas) and member of law school faculty vs Obama being a member of law school faculty and community organizer. Clintons experience is certainly more extensive but Obama has sufficient experience to be President.

    Compared to Oprah or our current Pres, these experiences are directly applicable to being President.

  16. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Helen Huntingdon,

    Of course none of that is new. We as a country are oddly suspicious of relevant experience when electing presidents. As far back as 1932, nearly every non-incumbent elected has been the one who is more of an outsider. The one exception was Bush the elder, but he was really elected to a third Reagan term.

    So from a purely horse-race perspective, Winfrey wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Dems. But I think as a country we’d probably be better off with a decent governor.

  17. Helen Huntingdon says

    Actually, one thing that had me really confused in 2008 was why Michelle Obama wasn’t running instead of her husband. After being frustrated by looking at his utterly stupid Senate record, I looked further back and also started to think that apparently the Senate run’s only purpose was to set up a run for President. But, looking at their history, if one of the two were going to run for Senate to set up a run for President, it was odd from my reading why it wasn’t Michelle, who looked much more of a heavy-hitter than her husband in 2003 or 2004.

    Whenever I tried to discuss any of this with Obama supporters at the time, continually asking people to give me substantive reasons to believe why what they were claiming about this guy were true, they’d just keep pointing back to his speeches and campaign promises. I’d ask again for something substantive, and get back more, “Because he says so!”

    The Dems set the precedent that this is a reasonable way to pick a president. Trump isn’t that big a surprise when you look at 2008.

    2008 will forever live in my memory as the year in which I don’t even know now many people screamed at me in rage that I must be racist because I said I would vote for a highly qualified black woman.

  18. Helen Huntingdon says

    antigone10: True. But then why is it a surprise that Oprah gives a speech and people go all, “Oprah 2020”? Or why is Trump a surprise?

  19. Helen Huntingdon says

    It looks like part of what we’re saying here is that this stuff is cyclical if not constant, which makes sense when you think about it. Ancient concepts like the golden mean or the allegory of the cave are new and revelatory to teenagers, and there’s an endless new supply of teenagers.

    There’s also an endless new supply of people loosing faith in party politics for the first time and acting on that loss of faith. That seems to be behind at least some Trump voters’ choice — the logic is weird and nonsensical to me, but I’ve spoken to some on their rationale, and they thought they were doing something boldly rebellious to thumb their nose at the system and stand up for the middle class, despite that being obviously the opposite of what they were doing.

    There’s an endless new supply of people losing faith in a particular party. There’s an endless new supply of people waking up to the fact that there are more than two options on the ballot. And so on.

    But for each of us individually, it is easy to forget all that, because we think the year a certain concept was first super-significant to us must be the year it was first super-significant to other people, and that’s just not true.

    I grew up in Minnesota, where voter independence has been a long-standing norm. Voting for people from 3 or 4 different parties in a major election is not an unusual thing for a Minnesota voter. (Remember that this is the state that though a 3-party government with a pro wrestler exec would be a fun experiment. Or at least funny. Which it was.) 2008 stands out in my head for a lot of reasons, but one reason is that’s when I found out a staggering number of people around the country thought that the Democratic Party owned my vote, not me. I was baffled by this insanity. People kept screaming things like “BUT PARTY UNITY!!!!!!!!!” to explain why I had to vote as they told me, and I’d respond with a baffled, “What party? I’m not a member of the Democratic Party.” Much to my surprise, some people thought that meant I must be a member of the Republican Party. It was astonishing to me to find out that there are apparently a lot of people out there who think a voter must be owned by one party or another. There was that whole PUMA thing, which I wasn’t terribly clear on because I’m not a member of the Democratic Party, but the PUMAs apparently shocked a lot of people, including themselves, who were figuring out for the first time they actually had a real choice other than voting as “their” party ordered.

    So there is nothing new under the sun, and yet, understanding that so many issues are forever newly discovered might help with understanding how to beat the odds a bit.

  20. TheGyre says

    I’m in my 60s, but even I can see that we need a much younger candidate than Oprah. She’d be 66 if she ran in 2020. I just couldn’t support her. Nor Biden. And, sadly not Bernie, either. I’d like to see someone in their 40’s, with a proven track record, demonstrably intelligent, female would be good, no troublesome baggage. Oh, and definitely no Twitter account. You Tweet and you’re out.

  21. rietpluim says

    Damn, that is one excellent speech indeed.

    And you may not want Oprah for president, but you may want someone who agrees with her words and acts on it.

  22. lotharloo says


    Obama was horrifically underqualified

    He was not “horrifically underqualified”. Unless you want old dinosaurs to be your presidents, you should allow people with shorter CVs to apply for the job.

  23. magistramarla says

    I’ve been saying for a long time that the writers of the Constitution made a serious mistake when they did not include some form of the cursus honorum for our elected officials. I would never hire a surgeon who had not been educated in medicine and done many years of practicing before practicing on me. Why should our President not be someone who has had training in representing citizens by serving in lower levels of government first. The Romans had this right!

  24. lotharloo says

    Also, according to CNN, “Oprah actively thinking about running for the president”. Gah. Republican presidents are becoming increasingly more incompetent and stupid: George H. W. Bush -> George W. Bush -> Fucking Trump. I hope the same pattern does not start in Democratic presidents.

  25. antigone10 says

    @Helen Huntindon

    I also live in Minnesota. And I’m baffled that you can call Ventura’s tenure as “funny”. Sure, it was hilarious to have someone defunding the school system to the bone, mocking St. Paul, and didn’t know about the job enough to have opinions about some pretty damned important things. And then after voting for someone who wasn’t “a politician” Minnesota than voted for the most politician-y politician ever.

    There are not more than two options on the national ballot. There are Republicans, there are Democrats. You want that to be different? Then we need a different political system. First past the post will always, always, always, always create two parties. Every once and awhile, a party will implode and someone else will rise to take over that position, but that normally leaves the established party in charge while that happens. Local elections can be different, and sometimes you can even get a third-party person on a ticket for a Congressperson (though they need to be someone with enough name recognition themselves, so basically only someone who had already joined a party and then jumped to another party or a local celebrity) but you’ve got two choices for president. And it fucking matters.

  26. John Morales says

    Are we so shallow that we now see a TV personality — a rich, eminently successful TV and movie star — as sufficient qualification for the job of president?

    Yes. Yes, you are.

    (But then, she is a billionaire and she has The Secret!)

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    NOPE! UH-UH!! FUCK NO!!!

    And if by some act of stupidity she does end up the Democratic candidate, I will refuse to vote, even if that means another four years of Trump. At that point, the Democrats would really have become just as bad as the Republicans.

  28. Katherine Eaton says

    This post summary of the things Obama worked on in the Senate by Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings is what made me pro-Obama. http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/10/barack_obama.html

    So my little data point is: while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of interesting legislation on important but undercovered topics. I can’t remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I’m doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good. Since I think that American politics doesn’t do nearly enough to reward people who take a patient, craftsmanlike attitude towards legislation, caring as much about fixing the parts that no one will notice until they go wrong as about the flashy parts, I wanted to say this. Specifics below the fold.

    She went on to cover the following four topics:
    nonproliferation (and Rachel Maddow has a series of shows on what he did to reign in loose nukes during his tenure)
    avian flu
    regulating genetic testing
    reducing medical malpractice lawsuits the right way

    If Republicans hadn’t stonewalled him, our world would be very different today.

  29. brutus says

    Electoral politics and governance are substantially different (before then after the election). We’re quickly heading toward a standard where only celebrities can get the necessary attention and support for their candidacies. Entertainers who keep us, well, entertained obviously fare the best independent of the quality of their ideas or qualifications. It’s not entirely clear that electing celebrities, equivalent to the high school student council popularity contest, leads to better or worse governance across the board. With specific instances (names omitted), yeah, results speak for themselves.

    I do not relish the idea of an Oprah Winfrey candidacy or administration, leapfrogging years of experience in public service into high office. The ideas she has peddled thus far, though embraced rabidly by a lot of the credulous public, are highly suspect. Way too close the Gospel of Prosperity for comfort.