By Patricia Lee Sharpe
Understandably, perhaps, Oprah Winfrey has basked in the adulation prompted by her remarks at the Golden Globes awards ceremony. Now it’s time for her to put a stop—a totally unambiguous stop—to the nonsense. She is not—repeat NOT—qualified to be president of the United States of America.
Democrats may be looking for a political messiah, but it was pretty shocking to see House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi waffling instead of declaring, “Much as I love Oprah, I’m not jumping on a Winfrey bandwagon.” Was this an attack of courtesy? Or opportunism? Or a bald admission that the Democrats as a political party are totally bankrupt? As in, no vision; no agenda; no credible up-and-coming leaders.
Yes, millions of fans would vote for Oprah—and it seems almost sacrilegious to criticize her, but leading a complex country in a complex world isn’t for amateurs, however good-hearted their well-rehearsed public personas may be. And lest anyone tries to knock a hole in this argument, I hasten to mention Ronald Reagan, who was indeed an actor by profession. Before his presidential run, however, he’d been Governor of California, a state with a diverse population and an economy larger than that of most countries. For all his ideological deficiencies, he knew from the day he was inaugurated that a president's powers are limited —and, yes, he negotiated skillfully with Mikhail Gorbachev when the Soviet state was tottering. Unfortunately, his catchy little mantra proclaiming that “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” has undermined the ability of subsequent presidents to govern effectively.
Which brings us back to Oprah Winfrey who has no more experience in politics and governance than the disastrous Donald Trump. None. Zilch. Nada. Learning on the job? Growing on the job? Possible. But far from ideal. Americans deserve a president who understands the job from day one.
None of which is to say that Oprah Winfrey hasn’t had an remarkable career. She was, of course, a highly praised actress. More importantly, as a TV personality, she touched people’s hearts even as she promoted books in a country which seems to have a congenital aversion to reading, let alone thinking. She has also been a fairly successful businesswoman. All without a hint of scandal, so far as I know. But the world is full of wonderful people who lack the experience and knowledge it takes to guide a major country in the twenty-first century. Oprah herself should know this, but show business has a terrible reputation for inflating egos.
If Ms. Winfrey has decided she’d like to try her hand at politics, let her do it the responsible way. Let her run for Congress. Let her follow up with a stint in the Senate. And then, having earned her spurs, let her go for broke. Millions may like her on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready for the presidency.