The Oprah Opera

Friday, January 12, 2018 - 10:30am
John Kushma

The Oprah Opera 


It’s not as ridiculous an idea as it first seems, Oprah as president, after you get over the overall ridiculousness of it.  


The presidential arena has become a frightful free-for-all with the Hollywood glitterati and every show biz mook wanting to get into the act.  Where do they get the idea they can be President of the United States?  Well, they get it from us, we the people.    


You hear more frequently these days of some high profile actor, sports figure, or television personality eluding to the fact that they may be thinking about entering politics and a run for office.  Some actually do, and they actually succeed.  Jack Kemp, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken, Sonny Bono immediately come to mind, and Ronald Reagan didn’t do so bad either. 


And then there are the many who just talk about the idea, or their agent directs them to talk about it, just for the hype and headlines.  Show business, baby!   


In reality ...fantasy, I guess that would be, they are actors, so they must think that just looking and acting like a president is all that’s required.  But, actors are people too my friend, and people are what make a democracy.  Looks and demeanor are important.  Possibly the most important to be elected president in America today.  Just imagine Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington as president.  Works for me.  Then, think of Pee Wee Herman, or Kathy Griffin.  Nuh-uh.    


Thinking that one could be president crosses everyone’s mind from time to time, especially, when things in government are going horribly wrong.  Like now.  After all, criticizing our government’s bureaucracy, our terminal politicians and administrators is as much a national sport as it is entertainment, as it is a well-meaning patriotic gesture while gathered around our dinner table.  We all want to help America. 


“These are the times that try men’s souls.”  Women’s souls too.  Apparently, Oprah Winfrey’s soul as well.  Entertainment television is what America is all about, what America has become, so why is it so outrageous an idea for an entertainment star to be president?


Ronald Reagan.


Unfortunately, times have changed, rather, the balance of American intellect has changed, as we recently voted in a television reality star who, for all practical purposes, is no more than a megalomaniac with illusions of grandeur.  


Now, let’s get serious and show the world what we’re really made of.  


Oprah is perfect.  She’s a woman, a Democrat, she’s black, and a television star.  And if that isn’t enough to qualify her, here’s more ...she has heart, she has soul, she has a conscience.  Oh yeah, and she ran her own television network, her own publishing company, she is widely known as a generous and gracious human being and philanthropist, and she has earned the title, “Queen of All Media”.


Joe Biden, look out!   Maybe Wolf Blitzer should run. 


Oprah Winfrey has been called the most influential woman in the world, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She has honorary Doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard.  Further, as if you needed further, she is the richest African-American and North America’s first multi-billionaire black person, and has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American History. 


But can she sing (Oprah Opera)?  Oh, yeah, she sings great.  She does windows too and can bench press her own weight.  


Donald Trump, on the other hand, can’t sing a note, won’t lift anything heavier than a Big Mac, and hasn’t contributed a dime to his own charities which he uses for tax write-offs.


But here’s the thing.  This is our show.  We the people, remember us?  We choose our leaders to lead and guide us, first and foremost.  That is a serious and critical calling and responsibility.  A sacred trust.  But we have apparently become a nation of entertainment addicted couch potatoes and we are choosing our leaders to entertain us, first and foremost.  So, it’s us not them.  It’s us, not Donald Trump.  Us, not Oprah Winfrey.


Although Oprah may make a good, even great, president, perhaps far better than any standard fare politician clinging to his job today, head in the sand safely under the scandal radar, haunting the halls of Washington DC, let’s make sure we choose our leaders to safely lead us, and not lead us off a cliff.


Let’s make sure we don’t choose an Oprah just so we can sit in front of our television screens and enjoy the show.  There is serious work to be done for the people and for the nation.  There’s foreign policy.  


While many well coifed, well spoken politicos and pundits proffer their unavailing sound bites on the nightly news and Sunday morning political programs, don’t get carried away just for the sake of getting carried away from their lethargy by leaning toward flamboyant showmen.  Salesmen.  The grass always looks greener on the other side, and often it is, but lawn care is a tricky science and takes work and determination ...and vision.  


There’s wisdom and then there’s hubris.  We seem to be placing more younger folks into positions of responsibility these days thinking that youth and vitality are the shot in the arm America needs ...and we’re looking toward actors to act the part of leadership.  All well and good, but wisdom is the key, you aren’t born with it, you can’t fake it.   


And we don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot again   


If Oprah is serious about running for president in 2020, she needs to confer with and get the blessing of our tribal leaders, people of wisdom, people like ...(plug in your own favorite person of wisdom) ...not the blessing of the Hollywood glitterati that are egging her on.


Remember, the burden is on us, not them.  



John Kushma is a communication consultant and lives in Logan, Utah.