Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Age of Oprah: Cultural Icon For The Neoliberal Era

WaPo |  America woke up Monday with a crazy idea in its addled brain: Oprah Winfrey could be the next president of the United States.

The notion has tugged at the imagination for as long as Winfrey has been famous, but her barnstorming speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday electrified much of the 56 percent of the populace that disapproves of her fellow television personality, President Trump. The possibility of a Winfrey campaign, on Monday at least, seemed capable of uniting both ends of the political spectrum.

“I want her to run for president,” Meryl Streep told The Washington Post just after the Globes ceremony. “I don’t think she had any intention [of declaring]. But now she doesn’t have a choice.”
“Oprah. #ImWithHer,” tweeted Bill Kristol, scion of neoconservatism and the original promoter of Sarah Palin, whose tongue-in-cheek declaration gave way to an objective case for her candidacy: “Understands Middle America better than Elizabeth Warren,” he tweeted. “Less touchy-feely than Joe Biden, more pleasant than Andrew Cuomo, more charismatic than John Hickenlooper.”

The question lingering under this surprising groundswell: Are we now at a point where we believe celebrity is a prerequisite for winning (let alone governing)? Jokes about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being so widely likable that he, too, could run for president have recently morphed into something like actual candidate buzz; the wrestler-turned-actor recently said he’s “seriously considering” a run.

“Arguably Donald Trump is the most famous man in the world,” said GOP strategist Rick Wilson, a never-Trump Republican. Under the new rules of political engagement, “maybe you can only beat a celebrity with another celebrity.”

Her chances of winning? “One hundred percent,” said another Republican strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speculate brazenly. “If she runs for the Democratic nomination, I think it’s over.”