Oprah 2020


59 responses to “Oprah 2020

  1. Sounds fine to me. Do we have to wait until 2020?

  2. No.

    I’m a progressive – I’ve voted for progressive candidates all my life, starting with George McGovern.

    But NO. I will not support a celebrity, a person with zero relevant experience in government or policy, as a presidential candidate. If the United States has been reduced to the point that we select our national leaders from among TV personalities, rather than from individuals with experience in policy development and our political and legislative systems… well, that’s a death knell.

    Yes… Donald Trump has demonstrated that a loud mouth, coupled with media fame and lots of money, can persuade people to vote for him. And yes, that implies that an Oprah Winfrey might do the same. But to what end? Do we want another figurehead president? Do we really think that because the figurehead is “liberal” (or whatever label you want), that somehow substitutes for competence and experience?

    The very idea that supposedly serious people are talking about Oprah (or any other TV star) as a presidential candidate speaks volumes about how thoroughly dumbed down we have become as a society.

    No, I will not support such a candidate.

    [Response: I don’t support her for her celebrity.

    I support her for the proof I’ve seen over the years, over and over again, that she has authentic compassion. She connects with people. She has an ability to listen (what a rare quality!), even to people with bizarre or reprehensible views, and still maintain both her own dignity and that of everyone else. She is a philanthropist who puts her money where all our mouths should be.

    And she is far more business-savvy than Donald Trump, having built a media empire and become a personal billionaire — without ever having to declare bankruptcy.

    As for her celebrity, as little as it may have to do with her ability to do the job, it has a lot to do with the ability to get elected.

    She would not be a figurehead. Of course she’d need lots of help — who wouldn’t? Nobody — nobody — is “prepared” for the job at the start. If that’s what you require, it’s a pity because unless you can bring FDR back from the dead, no such thing exists.

    Your comment speaks volumes about how jaded we have become, when a brilliant, powerful, effective, compassionate leader, able to inspire millions, is regarded as unfit because she’s a celebrity rather than an experienced politician.

    Oprah 2020!]

    • Oprah wouldn’t be the first person elected president of the United States without ever holding prior elected office. That would be George Washington.

      I’ll take someone who is committed to morality, who truly understands and really cherishes human beings, over somebody who doesn’t but has political experience. Every time.

      • “… committed to morality, who truly understands and really cherishes human beings,…” Ah A platform to get rid of the nukes quick quick. Has the TV star in question ever articulated such an idea?

        [Response: I’ve tried not to interfere with commenters expressing contrary opinions. But this one is so ridiculous, that in my opinion it exceeds the boundaries of useful tolerance. It’s the kind of comment that derails and retards discussion rather than advance it.

        Don’t bother to reply with a retort. You’re free to express your own opinions and beliefs in any words you choose; I’m free not to host them when they sink to such a low level of sensible coherence. I will exercise that right.]

    • “Nobody — nobody — is “prepared” for the job at the start. If that’s what you require, it’s a pity because unless you can bring FDR back from the dead, no such thing exists.”

      Or go all the way back to Hillary Clinton who was very prepared to do the job.

      Consider Oprah 2020!

      Put her on the list of potential people who could take over and clean up the Trump mess.

  3. It’s an interesting thought.

    Intelligent, compassionate, competent, able to speak in sentences….

    What a welcomed change that would be.

  4. I like compassion and the ability to listen in a candidate, but–my understanding is that Winfrey is too involved in pseudo-science and “woo.” Would she appoint Dr. Oz as sec’y of HHS?

    [Response: Or would she consult genuine experts, at places like CDC, NIH, Johns Hopkins, Harvard Med, and actually *listen* to those experts about her choice? Unlike Trump, she’s not so arrogant as to believe she knows better than everybody about everything (like medical scientists when it comes to medical science).]

    • She’s not as arrogant as trump, but on her show she kept bringing back guests who promoted viewpoints that would be totally condemned at those research hospitals. I would have to see a very solid disavowal by her of that stuff.

  5. Jeffrey Davis

    Oprah believes in a practical kind of karma. If your attitude is right, the universe will reward you.

    It’s nonsense. Worse, it’s pernicious nonsense.

    [Response: The notion that karma is “pernicious nonsense” strikes me as nonsense.]

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Oprah’s beliefs border on the Prosperity Gospel. I’m sorry that you don’t find that pernicious.

  6. Oh brother. Dr. Phil McGraw, Jenny McCarthy, Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, Suzanne Somers, James Ray, The Secret. The sad thing is that millions buy into this pseudoscientific claptrap that has enabled Oprah to become rich promoting. I’m not saying she’s lacking compassion, or that she lacks intellectual capacity. But she has made a spectacular living hawking woo and we have more than enough of that. I’m no Trump supporter. I am ashamed of him and, in fact, find him lacking in many of the qualities possessed by Oprah (intelligence, business acumen, compassion) but Oprah for President? We can’t do better? Quoting the orange one, “Sad.”

    [Response: Let’s please clear our heads of nonsense like the idea that she was able to “become rich promoting” pseudoscience. She succeeded through hard work, extraordinary character (overcoming terrible adversity), her natural charisma, her amazing talent (academy award), and perhaps most of all the fact that the compassion she showed her TV viewers was always, always, sincere — to use the lingo of others, “she ain’t frontin'”.]

  7. Is she on the record about climate change?

  8. Wouldn’t one want to have some evidence of what her policy positions are before supporting her over other qualified candidates? I agree that she is intelligent, well spoken and compassionate, but that is just a starting point not job qualifications.

    Of course she would be 10^6 times better than another four years of the current dumpster fire as she is a better human being in more ways than one can count.

    Would certainly be interesting if she entered the race…

  9. Um, on reading tamino’s response to pupdog: Oprah isn’t exactly known for consulting genuine experts before pushing dangerous pseudoscience with respect to medical science. I think her record on science — medical science especially — should preclude support for her in a run for POTUS. Fortunately, I see no sign she’s thinking of such a thing. Her compassion is not in doubt, and Trump’s lack thereof should have precluded him as POTUS also, IMO. So celebrate her compassion by all means. But check out her record on medical science and expertise, It’s not good at all.

  10. The President of the United States has a lot of responsibilities, but one of the most important is to be a leader. That means more than making decisions and barking orders. It requires the ability to unite and to inspire.

    It’s what made Lincoln so beloved, it’s what JFK and FDR knew, and by their leadership enabled us to do great things. Oprah has that ability. Hillary Clinton, despite her vast experience and incredible knowledge base, was — and in my opinion still is — oblivious to the real nature of inspiration and the power it brings out in all of us.

    As for pseudoscientific “woo” — maybe the quickness with which we criticize her for having it on her TV show makes those millions upon millions who want to watch it feel as though we (the scientifically educated “elite”) are looking down our noses at them. The cure, in my opinion, is not to reject the most inspiring and compassionate leader who can actually connect with those people — it’s a healthy dose of Neil deGrasse Tyson with a side order of James Randi.

    I think some of the readers here might benefit from the insight of Trae Crowder (a.k.a. the “liberal redneck”). People in middle America, in the south, are repelled by the attitude they so often get from us liberal yankee intellectuals that we’re better than they are. When you look down on people, don’t expect them to look up to you.

  11. One more thing: although there’s clearly disagreement among us, I’m proud of the fact that we have all done so without resorting to “alternative facts” or descending into the cesspool of insult and anger that so often characterizes internet discussion. Thank you.

    We all gain more perspective when we actually listen to what others say, not to refute but to understand.

  12. Well, it’s along the lines that Dr. Hayhoe has been pushing lately. But I have to say that the thought of drawing successive presidents and maybe more going on into the future from the entertainer class rather than the more traditional governor/senator class does give me shivers for the future of the country.

    [Response: I understand your concerns, and share some of them. But I (like many Americans) have little confidence in the traditional governor/senator class; for a lot of Americans that is what gives them shivers.]

    • I hear you. But I suggest Season 2 Episode 3 of Black Mirror, “The Waldo Moment”, provides some further context. Its available on Netflix and surely other places.

    • I thought at the same time as the yank presidential election there was a concurrent election for a bunch of senators or congressmen or something and the same people who were already in virtually all got in again. So much for the electorate not liking their traditional representitives. So much for clearing the swamp policy the elephant presidential cantidate had as a platform.
      It seems yanks very much like the status quo.

  13. As for her running-mate: I recommend Gen. Wesley Clark. He’s former supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, quite the expert on foreign policy, military and security issues. He started his military career graduating first in his class at West Point, and followed with a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford.

    In his first military command in Vietnam, he was shot four times with an AK-47 by an enemy soldier. Despite his wounds, he continued to lead his men. Leadership is as leadership does.

    While serving as NATO commander, he put in place policies to increase diversity in the command structure. This was years before it was “politically correct” to do so — he did it not to “fall in line” but to lead the way. Leadership is as leadership does.

    I believe that as POTUS, this is exactly the kind of person Oprah would seek. I think the idea that she would appoint “Dr. Oz” as surgeon general is ludicrous. I trust her to seek out the best. Stop thinking that if her turn comes to appoint a judge to the supreme court, she would start her list with “Judge Judy.” Expect her to suggest, perhaps, a former president of the Harvard Law Review and professor of constitutional law. She might be one of the few presidents able to convince Barrack Obama to take the job.

    Great leaders attract great followers.

  14. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    Y’all are assuming that the USA will have future elections.

    Actually, Barron will be installed as leader-for-life in 2024, with Chuck Norris as VP.

    And Sarah Huckabee Sanders will replace Oprah as the nation’s most popular television host.

  15. Apparently I’m too late for the video; Dick Clark’s heirs have gotten it blocked from Youtube (though I’m betting it’s still out there somewhere).

    But I’d agree that you could do far worse than Oprah, even if the questions about pseudoscience are reasonable ones to ask. Her ability as executive and businesswoman is well demonstrated, and is far more impressive than T’s spotty record. (Descriptors of which have been suppressed here.)

    “Actually, Barron will be installed as leader-for-life in 2024, with Chuck Norris as VP.”

    Well, I hope that’s meant light-heartedly; I’m certainly entertaining serious concern for the integrity of the American political process these days, and it’s hard to know where the line should be drawn–or even *if* it should.

    However, as a long-time resident of suburban Atlanta and current resident of rural South Carolina, I think the probable result of proposing a ‘leader for life’ would be to bring a great many Southerners into line against it. Oh, there would be supporters, certainly–Dominionists, probably, who are authoritarian to the core, and certainly shills and yes-men of corporatist interests or business ‘warlords.’

    But it’s very clear to me that Lynyrd Skynyrd were hitting something deep in the regional psyche when they sang:

    “I hope Neil Young will remember/Southern man don’t need no crown.”

    And that’s on top of 30-40% of Southern voters who regularly vote Democrat
    now. I can’t help but wonder how such a development would go down at Fort Jackson, 30 or so miles from my door, with its officer corps sworn to uphold the Constitution (and by and large taking that with great pride), and with a demographic makeup that’s reasonably diverse (25% minority) barring the under-representation of women; young (average age: ~30); and surprisingly well-educated (~90% hold a college degree).


    In my mind, I’m hearing one big ol’ “hell, no!”

  16. Martin Smith

    One thing Trump has forced me to do…

    He has forced me to reconsider what would make a good president now. I haven’t finished that exercise, but we now have a stark comparison before us: Donald Trump vs Oprah Winfrey.

    1. Business Success

    Trump started with $200 million given to him by his father and is now worth $3.1 billion.
    Winfrey started with nothing and is now worth $3 billion.

    Trump invested in real estate during a period when investing in real estate was pretty much a sure thing. Yet had he invested his stake in index funds instead, he would be worth about 4X what he has now.

    Clearly, Winfrey is the better business person.

    2. Bankruptcy

    Trump companies have filed for bankruptcy 6 times.
    Winfrey: 0

    Again, Winfrey is better at business.

    3. TV Success

    Trump: Host of The Apprentice, 12 years.
    Winfrey: Host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, 25 years. She has also had other TV successes, including talk shows before TOWS, and several celebrity interview specials over the years. She will now join 60 Minutes on CBS.

    Winfrey is by far the more successful TV personality.

    4. Acting Success

    Trump: I don’t think you could call any of his appearances acting.
    Winfrey: “The Color Purple” (Oscar nomination), “Beloved”

    Winfrey is the much better actor.

    I realize that these attributes are not what we normally expect in a president, but Trump himself touts them. and his supporters do too. Winfrey beats him easily in every case.

    Plus, Oprah Winfrey is a political outsider in all the ways Trump was. By any measure that anyone could have used to justify voting for Trump in 2016, that person would have to choose Winfrey over Trump. Except racism, of course. The racists will continue to vote for Trump no matter what. But anyone who makes any pretence of having a legitimate reason to vote for Trump would have to vote for Winfrey in 2020.

  17. Oprah wouldn’t be my first choice. But she is an intelligent woman and has a large following. Her support of “woo” over science is a concern, but when was the last time we had a President who could pass a high-school physics test? Hopefully, she is smart enough to listen to experts–the only President in recent memory who has relied solely on his own expertise is the current imbecile in chief.
    On the plus side, she does understand how to use a bully pulpit–and that is something it usually takes a President at least a full term to master.

  18. “Oprah should not run for president. She’s completely unqualified, she’s had woo peddlers that she’s elevated to status they are grossly unqualified for, and she’s got no relevant political experience.

    Is she better than Donald “Global warming is a Chinese hoax and vaccines cause autism” Trump? Yes, but good god don’t let that be the goddamn barrier for entry.”

    via Stop the Anti-Science Movement

  19. While Oprah seems like a nice person, there are huge conflicts of interest, as with any billionaire. If we are not careful, we make the office into a profit center forevermore.

    And, we have just gone through one year of on-the-job training for a president. And, he still doesn’t get it. I believe Oprah would be better but I would much rather have a politician who knows the art of the possible about getting policy set.

    [Response: The idea that Oprah would tolerate, let alone perpetuate, turning the office into a “profit center” is ludicrous.

    The potential “conflict of interest” from personal wealth is a matter of character and ethics. I have yet to hear the name of anyone who can match Oprah for character and ethics and has an actual chance of winning the election. In fact, you’d have a hard time matching her character and ethics, period.]

  20. And of course everyone is already trying to dig up dirt. Here’s what the WAPO came up with:

    Actually, given her long time in the public eye, this is pretty lean. I don’t think any of this would stick unless it was handled VERY badly by her PR team.

  21. I can understand people who are wary of professional politicians who have done little else in their life, but perhaps a few years as a senator of governor might be good practice before becoming the most powerful person on Earth? Inspiring people is fine, but you also need to know how to push legislation through congress.

  22. Politicians and entertainers have a couple of things in common. One, they both are in general good communicators, and for obvious reasons. Two, neither group is know for being in general good at quantitative thinking, barring reading a balance sheet or a ratings survey. (And noting that there have been exceptions, from Hedy Lamarr to Brian May.)

  23. The US has had one celebrity president already.

    Ronald Reagan started as a film actor. He then became a union leader and served two terms as a governer.

    Celebrity should not disqualify a candidate, but it is certainly not enough to recommend them on its own.

    One notable feature of Reagan was his ability to attract capable people to work with him. It will be interesting to see the calibre of those expressing support for Oprah.

    This has been a notable lack in Mr Trump. He has found it very difficult to appoint capable people to his administration.

    If you judge the calibre of a leader by the calibre of his team, the current POTUS scores rather poorly.

  24. Many commenters have compared Oprah to Trump. That’s a pretty damn low bar. Second, I don’t look down my nose at anyone, Southern Conservative or otherwise. I disagree strongly sometimes but never regard myself as a superior human being by default. Nevertheless, that’s no reason to tread lightly on misguided refusal, by Southerner or Northerner, liberal or conservative, to act on evidence vs. wishes (as to liberals, I’ll point out that Bill Maher is an anti-vaxer). Finally, Doc Snow misquoted Leonard Skynyrd who said, in “Sweet Home Alabama” the “I hope Neil Young will remember, Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow” in response to Young’s song “Southern Man.”

    • Yes, comparing Winfrey to Trump is comparing her to “a pretty damn low bar,” but she doesn’t just make it over that bar. She makes it over that bar in the stratosphere.

      • I think what happened is that because of the context, an entertainment awards show, a lot of people who normally would not watch a speech saw someone intelligent, articulate, and inspiring make strong political statements. And they compared that person to the disaster who sits in our White House and became excited over the idea of a president of whom we could be proud.

        My guess is that the idea of Oprah running for the presidency will die away over time. But keep her on the list. And might I suggest we also look at Kamala Harris? This is another intelligent, competent person who does have experience in government.

        Let’s build a list of top quality options. It’s too early to get behind any specific person.

      • Kamela Harris might be ok, but as a former prosecutor I’d have to examine her positions closely. That’s not an ideal career path, to me.

        I’d prefer Elizabeth Warren, Bernie or maybe Kirsten Gillibrand.

      • “We need a new kind of president who is a leader of The People,”

        That, IMO, is a plus for someone like Oprah. She might have a better chance of bringing a number of Republicans (at least Republican women) into the discussion. Unfortunately her skin tone and gender is not going to be acceptable to a large number of white males. And some black males apparently are not very open to a woman president.

        “How about someone with a science background as a president?”

        If they have the other qualifications. Intelligence should not be an issue, along with problem solving. We need strong leadership which may or may not be available. But bring some names.

        Stephen Chu?

        “I’d prefer Elizabeth Warren, Bernie or maybe Kirsten Gillibrand.”

        Add ’em. Warren works for me. Bernie is too old, IMO, and I’m not sure he has a lot of ability to work with others. I’m a bit soured on Gillibrand at the moment over how she worked to push Franken out of the Senate without allowing him the hearing he requested. But I wouldn’t disqualify her over that one issue.

        I’d put Tim Kaine on the list. I thought he did well in his run with Hillary.

        This is a golden opportunity. If things don’t significantly change the next Democratic presidential candidate is very, very likely to be the next US President. There is no “heir apparent”. We need to find an extraordinary person and give them a backing Congress so we can clean up the mess that is happening and move us forward.

      • Bill de Blasio? Looks kinda like a white guy and a lot of voters like that look.

    • Apparently I’ve fallen into a classic ‘Mondegreen’ (ie., ‘misheard lyric’). Appreciate the correction.

      But while that may damage the rhetoric I used, still think the sociopolitical perception is quite correct. The default assumption of a great many folks in this region is that the federal government does not belong to them and is not their friend.

      Further, I’d note that a predominant strain in secessionist state constitutions was the concept that their resistance to Lincoln’s administration was, in fact, completely in the tradition of the Founder’s resistance to the tyranny of George III. (Remember Booth’s words–“Sic semper tyrannus?”)

      Nor is that forgotten history today–I’ve seen it cited more than once in debate of various types, including for instance letters to the editor. I have no reason to think that any attempt to found a Trump dynasty would be gladly received here, Trump’s relatively greater popularity here notwithstanding.


      • The US political and social waters have been poisoned by Rupert Murdoch and a few other very wealthy people (Kochs, Mercers, etc.) A significant portion of the population has had their heads pumped full of crap. They have been taught that our government is their enemy.

        Trump promised to tear down the government, to “drain the swamp” which excited this group of government hating voters.

        Add in a large amount of misogyny to that promise to largely destroy the government and that explains Trump’s election.

        I don’t think people have actually started considering Oprah as a candidate. There has been no discussion of any potential problems such as a possible weakness when it comes to medical science.

      • Of the top 15 state recipients of federal $$ (in terms of net dollars received vs. $ put into the fed), 80% (12/15) voted for Tronald Dump. South Carolina, for instance, receives $4 for every dollar it puts in. What we are experiencing is the infinite capacity of Southern states to feel victimized. Thus it has been since colonial times. Interestingly enough, the situation persisted throughout the Civil War with the Confederate government replacing the federal government.

      • Fair comments, snarkrates, though my perception (based on considerable though somewhat scattershot reading on the topic) doesn’t quite accord with the ‘thus has it been since Colonial times’ bit–I think the feeling of ‘victimization’ you identify arose gradually throughout the course of the first half of the 19th century, with the rise of Abolitionism and the poison pill of the territorial spoils of the Mexican-American War. (In South Carolina, for instance, I think Colonial victimhood was mostly seen through the lens of upstate ‘yeoman farmers’ versus the nasty Low Country ‘fat cats’ in Charleston and the rest of the coastal region.)

        Be that as it may, the feeling of victimhood is not without some reason. (I say this as an resident outsider; my childhood-based emotional allegiances are Canadian all the way.) For once thing, there’s the history of post-bellum poverty. I don’t have a reference for this, but long ago I read somewhere that South Carolina, for instance, did not achieve ante-bellum levels of state GDP until the 1950s–pretty remarkable, I’d say. It’s certainly well-known that poverty has been a pervasive and persistent issue in the region. I’d argue, along with many, that it probably results in large part from the anti-democratic and racist governance that has also characterized the region for much of our history, not so much from Northern exploitation (specific instances of which, however, can certainly be identified.) But either way it’s cause for resentment.

        Less tangible but just as damaging, IMO, is the stereotyping of Southern mores, manners, and characteristics. It’s surprisingly acceptable, even today, to joke about Southern backwardness, often enough in terms that are quite parallel to racial stereotyping. Accent, educational attainment, and moral development (or the lack thereof) are all mocked, usually with no-one speaking up to say, “You know, I really don’t find that all that funny, or all that fair, or all that accurate.”

        Finally, the moral taint of slavery and racism still lingers over white Southerners. Nobody likes being the bad guy, even if most of the time it’s an unspoken subtext. The predictable result is denial and psychological repression–I’ve heard patently self-justifying family ‘history’ about how great-granddaddy’s slaves all just loved belonging to him, for instance–and, once again, resentment.

        Of course, voting for a bigot like Trump isn’t exactly the way to disperse the miasma. But–speaking now to the world at large!–please, please, please remember that it’s not all white southerners! In Georgia, for example, Hillary won 9 of 10 counties in Metro Atlanta*, not to mention Augusta, Savannah and Columbus, losing the state by only about 5%. Even in more conservative and rural South Carolina, she took 16 of 46 counties, including Columbia’s Richland County and Charleston. (Greenville-Spartanburg, diffuse but arguably the biggest conurbation in the state, though, did go to Trump.) In general, the urban South (including even Houston, TX) went solidly Democratic.

        There’s a lively progressive presence here; a minority to be sure, but far from negligible in number. It’s a fact worth remembering.

        *The ‘fringe’ county of Fayette was the exception.

  25. I’m not American so I don’t have any skin in the U.S. political game. However as an outsider watching from the sidelines I’ve been amazed at how the host of The Apprentice could become president of the USA, and I’m equally amazed at the outpouring of support for the host of the Oprah Winfrey Show for POTUS in 2020..
    I find Donald Trump’s rejection of consensus climate science disturbing. I find Oprah Winfrey’s rejection of consensus medical science almost as disturbing.
    The scientific method is important in medical science as well as in climate science. It seems to me that promoting Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Oz, as Oprah has done, is akin to supporting WUWT.

    • if you are an earthling, you have skin in the game of United States politics because of our military budget and ambitions which constitute the largest threat of military disaster to the planet and its residents.

      • I think you fundamentally misunderstand the political situation in the US. I actually think it is amazing how much Obama did accomplish given that he had an opposition that was willing to let the country burn if it would deprive him of a second term and constant carping from both the left and the right in his own party.
        People forget that it was Democrats who forced the choice of the Republican Romneycare health program as a model for Obamacare, and they managed to scuttle any hope for a public option, which is really the only model that makes sense for healthcare.
        The parties are polarized because there is money in it. There is no incentive to cooperate when your base is willing to give you money to obstruct. It only matters who is President right now to keep the Ayn Rand devotees from realizing they dystopian wet dream. This is what happens when you turn over the government to people who say government is the enemy. As Bolivar said, “America is ungovernable. He who tries plows the seas.”

    • I think the claim that she rejects consensus medical science is off. I think she played to her demographic to get ratings and increase her revenue. I agree that her touting of dubious/wrong medical stuff was unethical, but I can’t think she actually believes that stuff. Or, even if she does, she is not a narcissist and bully, so she would hire real experts to advise her, and she would decide based on their advice.

      I think the days of having an old school president like LBJ are gone. We can no longer expect/hope that the president can get a legislative program through both houses of Congress. We need a new kind of president who is a leader of The People, who can motivate the people to elect people to the House and Senate who have progressive beliefs. Oprah Winfrey can do that.

      • I think a strong president with great communication (and/or bullying) skills can get legislation through Congress, it’s just been so long since the Dems have shown any aptitude for this process that we don’t think it can be done. I would really like to see the Dems (or repubs) run an FDR or LBJ type presidential candidate. We need someone with intelligence, judgment, compassion and a strong belief that big government can do great things. Oprah might work out well. I think we never know about these people until they get a chance. Obama blew his chance in the first two years by attempting to do some nutty non-partisan accord with republicans who were quite open that their number one priority was to make Obama a one term president, to make sure he failed. It is a bully pulpit, but you have to step up and use it. When FDR thought about a national retirement income, he did not turn to the bankers and offer to privatize the system, he created Social Security. When LBJ dreamt of health care for old folks, he did not strike a deal with the insurance companies, he created Medicare. We don’t call it LBJ Care, we call it Medicare and US citizens support it in overwhelming numbers. We don’t call it FDR Security, we call it Social Security and US citizens support it in overwhelming numbers. The dems have been hopeless at messaging, governing and using the bully pulpit when they have had the chance to create good public policy. Oprah might be the dems’ best bet to put good public policy back on the tracks. I have reservations about her, but I am sick of career politicians. The Rs have dismantled this country using career politicians and celebrities. They know what they want and they work hard to get results. I think Oprah might really grasp that instead of being content to lead a party that is always out there trying to win the silver medal.

      • If she rejects the facts simply to please her base, that is even worse in a way–albeit practically required for a politician.

      • I think the problem with the Obama years is that Democrats, along with much of the public, failed to recognize the new emerging political reality, which was that the strategic political and social engineering efforts of the Koch donor network were bearing serious fruit. Academia, the legal profession, media and (from 2010) state legislatures were increasingly infected with cadres indoctrinated and manipulated by what might be called the “Koch ecosystem.”

        Yes, I know that sounds a little crazy. But it is well-documented; my source on it is Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money,” but she is far from the only one to report on this phenomenon.

        The point being, it wasn’t really ‘the R’s’–they participated in the process, to be sure, but were to a considerable extent a vehicle more than a driver. (That’s one of the reasons that the GOP is currently in institutional tatters in some respects. It’s pure anecdote, but my best Republican friends–a delightful couple I’d describe as socially somewhat liberal but religiously and fiscally conservative, no longer identify as Republicans.)

        People need to understand that we no longer live in a functioning democracy, but in a polity that is politically controlled by an oligarchy. I think it’s not too late to reclaim the country–the democratic institutions still exist, and are in many respects functional, particularly in technical and cultural terms. But the window to do so won’t stay open indefinitely.

        [Response: The Koch ecosystem has seriously hurt the Republican party, including driving out some of its most conservative and *best* members (Bob Inglis). Conservatives (like your friends) no longer have a rational political party to represent their beliefs — a serious blow to the cause of conservatism.]

      • agree with you, doc. It’s an oligarchy and attempts to make democracy work without unseating the oligarchy is truly plowing the sea. The GINI numbers on income/wealth inequality tell the story: http://fortune.com/2015/09/30/america-wealth-inequality/
        That said, centrist neoliberals like Obama and Oprah, are probably the best option for the dems who will not be allowed to work outside the neoliberal economic model by the oligarchs who make the decisions about public policy. I think it’s clear that republican tax reform will make wealth and income equality more severe. That’s where we live now.

      • Tamino said: “Conservatives (like your friends) no longer have a rational political party to represent their beliefs — a serious blow to the cause of conservatism.]”

        Yes–and one of the oft-overlooked consequences of that is that both parties become less accountable: if I, as a Democrat, can never ‘defect’ because the only alternative I have at the ballot box is just too awful, then my ability to send messages to my own party via that mechanism is likewise muted, or even completely negated.

      • If she doesn’t actually believe that stuff but still keeps on promoting the pseudoscience quacks then she lacks integrity, which IMHO ought to be a requirement for any nation’s leader.

      • Call it what it is. Now, it is not an oligarchy, but a kleptocracy.

  26. How about someone with a science background as a president?
    Short of that, if it must be some telly personality ( and how appalling is that! ) , methinks Alan Alda could do a passable job in the role.

  27. Martin Sheen? One hundred and fifty-six episodes must count as some experience.

  28. Also as an outsider (but yes, we all do have skin in the US game) it seems to me US progressives, all progressives, have been deeply scarred by the last couple of years. Imagine ourselves five years back, hearing Winfrey musing about the presidency – the reaction then would have been derision. But of course the Trump presidency was a joke on ‘The Simpsons’ once. So the goal posts have moved dramatically.

    And maybe the goal posts have narrowed too. Bob Wallace nailed it above – a big slice of America outside the cities hates government and distrusts politicians. Maybe celebrity and a high media profile, as well as the traditional large personal fortune, will be needed in future to galvanise a majority of voters. In which case I hope you choose smart, compassionate celebrities who know how to hire well and take good advice. And act on evidence.

    I laughed when I first heard talk of Oprah for Prez. But I see where Tamino comes from. It’s fascinating. I’d be making popcorn, but it’s all just too too damn serious.

    • “People need to understand that we no longer live in a functioning democracy, but in a polity that is politically controlled by an oligarchy. I think it’s not too late to reclaim the country–the democratic institutions still exist, and are in many respects functional, particularly in technical and cultural terms. ”

      Seems to me that from its infancy the US has been run sometimes more, sometimes less by a small percentage of rich individuals. Some of our Founding Fathers wanted to give the vote to only landed gentlemen. It took quite a while to include women and minorities in the voting class.

      Right before the Great Depression the oligarchs had huge control over most of the population. Control swung back in favor of the ‘working masses’ with the emerging labor movement and extended until, perhaps, the Reagan years. (Don’t hold me to the detailed turning points, I’m not a student of economic/political history.)

      Point is, things have moved very much to where a very small group of extremely wealthy people have an extreme amount of influence over our government.

      Some of their influence comes from funding campaigns and providing lucrative jobs for “good boy” politicians when they leave office.

      Some by their control of the media which works to divide the rest of us and keeps us from getting together to work for the common goals we hold.

      Everyone wants safety from foreign enemies and internal criminals.

      Everyone wants clean air and water. Safe food and pharmaceuticals. Safe transportation systems. Serviceable infrastructure. Some protection from a miserable end of years life.

      But we are so divided by (mainly Murdoch and the rabid right) that we can’t get together and make our lives better. Somehow we have to figure out how to get workers in cities and workers in the countryside, workers in the NE, Midwest, West and SE combine forces in order to better our lives.

      There’s something badly wrong when people working an honest 40 hour week can’t afford a decent place to live while others are paying a hundred million dollars for a painted canvas to hang on their wall.

      • Yes, it’s true that the early Republic was pretty much an oligarchy, too. And there have been periods of ascendency for ‘robber barons’ since. So this isn’t new in absolute terms.

        I think what is remarkable about the current period is just how thoroughly and transparently the GOP congress is at odds with public opinion. They’ve repeatedly bucked poll numbers to support unpopular measures or the reverse.

        You didn’t mention one of the prime mechanisms of control today, though, which is the role of money in the electoral process. It has become the sine qua non, even sometimes for local races, a reality reinforced every time campaign costs rachet up another notch. So, understandably, politicians who want to keep their jobs pay very close attention indeed to the needs and desires of their major donors. For example, while one reported reason for the passage of the tax ‘deform’ bill recently enacted was the desire for a political ‘win’, another (and IMO even more crucial) one was the threat by major donors to cut off funding if it failed.

      • The need for campaign funds has done terrible things to our government. Even the most honorable candidate is forced to grub for funds and that generally requires accessing some deep pocket people.

        I do think our best hope is to find someway to get the two tribes of “99%ers” to start talking about common goals.

        If we can start to understand that many of our goals are commonly held then we might be able to deal with problems like campaign financing.

  29. Oprah has a thoroughly postmodern worldview, which is why she often refers to individuals’ truth, rather than objective truth. If Jenny McCarthy’s “truth” about her son’s autism being caused by vaccination is given a platform by Oprah, why not Anthony Watts’ “truth” about climate change? I hold Oprah partially responsible for recent measles outbreaks. The US president should accept evidence-based science and not promote quackery.
    Again, I’m not a U.S. citizen so I don’t have a vote, but as pointed out above, when the US sneezes the world catches a cold.