Beware the hazard of celebrity politics

There had been a low-level buzz about Oprah Winfrey running for U.S. president in 2020

An editorial from the Prince George Citizen:

There had been a low-level buzz about Oprah Winfrey running for U.S. president in 2020 for the last year.

After Sunday night, that buzz is now a roar and American media outlets are breathlessly reporting that she’s actively considering a run, noting she vacationed with Barack and Michelle Obama last year.

Her speech while accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes, televised live in the U.S. and Canada, made no mention of politics or the current president but it was a master class in political oratory.

It featured a nod to her humble childhood in Milwaukee, the people who gave her a chance, the mentors who guided her and those who have inspired her with their courage to speak out and seek change.

Her voice soared as she wrapped up her speech, about maintaining “hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.”

Of course, she has no qualifications to be the president. She has never served in the military or in public office but so what? He Who Must Not Be Named wears not only his lack of qualifications but his willful ignorance about the world like a badge of honour. He has opened the door to the celebrity president, so why not Oprah or Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep or George Clooney or Denzel Washington or Halle Berry?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would have already run after his two terms as the governor of California but he wasn’t born in the United States, a constitutional requirement to hold the highest office in the land.

But at least he served in public office, by articulating a platform, getting elected and then implementing law and policy. The Governator is the only major Hollywood star actually qualified in a traditional sense to be the U.S. president.

Normally, a presidential candidate doesn’t step forward until about 12 to 18 months before the next election, which would be early next year. If Oprah is serious, wanted to all but guarantee being the Democratic nominee and bring about change immediately, she’d announce her candidacy this spring. She could have a huge impact on this fall’s midterm Senate and House elections. Her fame would help raise money and attract voter support for Democrats looking to break the Republican hold of Congress.

A basic understanding of the U.S. electorate shows she could easily win every voter demographic except for white men.

She could win but should she? As the 46th president of the United States, she’d be a significant improvement over 45 but that’s setting a ridiculously low bar. If she had a chat on the beach with 44 about the job, hopefully it went like this.

Oprah: So, Barry, do you think I could do it?

Barack: I can’t answer that for you, O. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself. Are you prepared to order men and women in uniform to their deaths to protect the country’s interests? Are you prepared to call their grieving families to express your condolences and thank them for sacrificing their loved one to their country? Are you prepared to meet those caskets coming off the plane and salute them? Are you prepared to order members of the American military to kill people who pose a threat to national security, including the use of nuclear weapons? Are you prepared to lie to the American public to maintain national secrets? Are you prepared to lie to the faces of other national leaders to benefit American interests? Are you prepared to crush political opponents fighting against your agenda? Are you prepared with having a Secret Service detail with you everywhere you go for every day of the rest of your life?

If she is prepared to do all that and she honestly wants to make her country better for fellow Americans, she should announce her candidacy and let the voters decide whether her fame and wealth outweigh her lack of political experience and expertise.

Hopefully, the answer is not an automatic yes.

In Canada, would we be well-served if Peter Mansbridge, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Celine Dion, Shania Twain or Russell Peters ran for prime minister?

Trevor Linden, Steve Nash, Bryan Adams, Pamela Anderson, Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen are all awesome but should they be B.C. premier?

The political cynic says these famous people couldn’t be worse than John Horgan and Christy Clark but they’d be wrong.

Just look at that mess the reality TV star as commander-in-chief has made, walking and talking proof that a famous dingbat is still just a dingbat.

That’s why people are hyped about the prospect of President Winfrey. The standard for political excellence has fallen so low that a renowned figure with a lifetime of achievement in the entertainment industry gives one great speech and she’s instantly a presidential frontrunner.

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