Thomas Chatterson Williams had a look at the rumors swirling around the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for president on the Democratic ticket and said, “No thank you.” (“Oprah, Don’t Do It,” New York Times, 1/9/2018):
I am not immune to Oprah’s charms, but President Winfrey is a terrible idea. It also underscores the extent to which Trumpism — the kowtowing to celebrity and ratings, the repudiation of experience and expertise — has infected our civic life. The ideal post-Trump politician will, at the very least, be a deeply serious figure with a strong record of public service behind her. It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act.
And while there has been a lot of positive response to the idea of Winfrey running for president (as Williams cites earlier in his piece), there has been a quick and stern reaction from a lot of liberals (as evidenced in the comments responding to Williams’s piece). To which Bill Kristol, of all people, had this to say:
Strangely, Kristol himself is on board with Winfrey, which in itself gives me doubts about it.
Look, Oprah Winfrey is a talented, intelligent, self-made woman. I don’t doubt that she’s a compassionate person who wants to make the world a better place. But as Williams points out, she’s a celebrity:
The idea that the presidency should become just another prize for celebrities — even the ones with whose politics we imagine we agree — is dangerous in the extreme. If the first year of the Trump administration has made anything clear, it’s that experience, knowledge, education and political wisdom matter tremendously.
If it came down to it, yes, I’d vote for Oprah Winfrey for president if it were her versus Trump. But unless the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary was a dead slug, I can’t imagine voting for her then. Unless she can come to the debates with a sincere display that she understands the most important issues the country faces, if she shows that there is actual substance to what she says beneath the sheen of what I imagine would be her super-inspiring campaign, she wouldn’t get my vote. We don’t need another showperson who can’t be bothered to learn the names of heads of state.
Even more, she’d have to do something to convince a voter like me that she is capable of overseeing US health policy in spite of her endorsement and elevation of quacks like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. And she’d have to explain herself a bit more thoroughly when it comes to a piece of shit like Grover Norquist getting excited at the idea of her running:
Perhaps most of all, I have a hard time believing that Winfrey is the kind of person who would want to be personally responsible for people’s deaths, and as President of the United States, she invariably would be. Trump doesn’t mind ordering a military strike because he doesn’t care about anyone’s life except his own (and maybe his children’s). Clinton has a record of endorsing military intervention. Maybe I don’t know something about Winfrey, but she doesn’t strike me as that kind of person.
I prefer Winfrey to the Rock or Kanye or Mark Cuban, but if that’s the way the country is going, I’ll just stop voting altogether.