Chat show host in the White House? Stranger things have happened
Trump says he would beat Oprah in 2020
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would beat Oprah Winfrey in a potential 2020 presidential match-up, though he doesn't think she will end up running.
"Yeah, I'll beat Oprah," he told reporters in the the Cabinet Room during a meeting on immigration with members of Congress.
Winfrey is "intrigued by the idea" of a presidential bid, best friend and CBS "This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King said Tuesday, and is taking the idea seriously, per friends of the former talk show host. Her speech on the #MeToo movement at Sunday's Golden Globes propelled Winfrey to the forefront of political conversation on Monday, with the potential to disrupt the Democratic primary process and pose a strong challenge to Trump in 2020.
"For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up," declared Oprah Winfrey as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes.
She finished her rousing speech with a call to action: "I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me too' again."
The problem is, when you have a man in the White House who does not sound presidential, any public figure who strings together a coherent sentence on a political matter does. The presidency of Donald Trump has brought a new political reality to the United States, but that does not mean it has to continue when he leaves office. We have adjusted to the reality TV president, and therefore we mould his potential successors in that shape.
Following her impassioned speech at the Golden Globes, eloquently discussing racism and sexual harassment, Oprah Winfrey sounded presidential in an unpresidential America. Does this mean she could successfully run for the White House?
Trump changed the rules for the celebrity candidate. Since his election victory, the Democratic challenge in 2020 has thrown out a few famous names with the likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg tipped for a run. They are, however, both loved and hated, according to Politico. What stands in Ms Winfrey's favour, if she decides to put her name forward, is the story that she tells. The former chat show host and actress is a "rags-to-riches media mogul", whose fame, success, and influence has attracted relatively few critics along the way.
There is a political economy to fame, with stardom helping a candidate raise money, run and win. This is not necessarily a good thing, CBC News argues. Dennis Pilon, a scholar at York University in Toronto, calls it "the tyranny of fame", arguing that stardom is "a profoundly undemocratic phenomenon... it encourages a kind of non-participation". Celebrity politics is not value-based, it's not based on a vision; it is based on charisma.
The celebrity candidate may not be what the Democratic Party needs, either. Writing for the New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams advises Ms Winfrey not to run for the sake of the Democrats. The ideal post-Trump politician, he argues, is a "deeply serious figure with a strong record of public service". He adds: "It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Trump's hallucinatory circus act."
Oprah Winfrey has not made any official statement about her intentions (if any at all) to run for the White House, but her Golden Globes speech could prove the catalyst for Oprah 2020. But will American voters have had enough of celebrity candidates by the time they return to the polls?
Oprah would easily beat Trump if she ran for President, poll finds