And so I’ve encountered the dilemma of the blogger once again: any time I want to write about a national news item, it has already been written about at length by people smarter than I.
Oprah gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globes and now we’re talking about her running for president. Okay, then.
Kevin D. Williamson at The National Review takes the cynical view that she’s got the ratings, so Why Not President Oprah? I agree most with Thomas Chatterton Williams in The New York Times saying Oprah, Don’t Do It, though The Fever Dream of President Oprah by Doreen St. Félix in The New Yorker makes the point that Oprah already influences people like a politician.
Looking at my like minded friends on social media (a distinction that’s probably redundant), a lot of people are saying something to the effect of, “I don’t love the idea but if she can beat Trump, I’m all for it.” I’m afraid I can’t get behind that. The presidency of Donald Trump needs to be an aberration, not the new normal. I’m even setting aside the xenophobia, sexual assault, nepotism, instability, and possible treason. I’m only speaking about the idea that the presidency is an entry level position for the most popular celebrity.
I’m not so naive as to think that being good on TV isn’t already a prerequisite. Without Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, there is no Obama presidency. Williamson makes the point that we Democrats elevated him to celebrity status as a president. But even before Between Two Ferns and mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel, presidents played sax on Arsenio or were bona fide movie stars. But, at the very least, they also had to be a governor or a senator or a general.
I read a quote from Noam Chomsky talking about Americans discussing sports on radio call in shows. “People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it’s plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it’s at a level of superficiality that’s beyond belief.”
Imagine Donald Trump or Oprah Winfrey were being put forward as the new coach of the New England Patriots. There would be riots in Boston. People would burn them in effigy. “They know nothing about the game! They’ve never so much as coached Pop Warner before!” But President of the United States? Yeah, absolutely. We need to shake things up with an outsider.
It’s always annoyed me when friends of mine have claimed that we’re living in Idiocracy, referring to the 2006 Mike Judge movie. It’s always struck me as kind of alarmist and pseudo intellectual. While it may not be our present or future, I am starting to look at it as a warning. The train that leads to President Comacho is long but President Trump and President Winfrey seem like the first two stops.