Oprah will have zilch effect on Obama's White House run for two common sense reasons. In between the occasional touch on social issues, Oprah feeds millions of daytime housewives and house husbands a steady dose of sneaks and peeks into movie star chit chat and gossip, and self-help marital and family relationship problem solving.
Now in one big leap she's asking the same millions that dote on her sage advice on relationships to shift gears and trust her judgment that Obama is the best to handle global warming, tax policy, the Iraq war, terrorism, job creation, and inflation, failing public schools, criminal justice issues, and judicial appointments.
That's like asking millions to accept disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick as the chair of the Humane Society of the U.S.'s animal cruelty prevention week. It's a terrible fit, and Oprah lovers will see through that.
The one group, though, that Obama is banking that Oprah can help pry loose from the Hillary column is women. But polls have shown that women voters don't march in lock step with a woman candidate solely based on gender no matter how much personal sympathy and empathy they may have with the female candidate.
They also judge a female candidate on her stance on the issues, their political beliefs and party affiliation. Hillary is a tough sell to many women who either like or loathe her, and she's a politician.
There's absolutely no reason to think that women voters will stampede to Obama because their favorite female talk show guru told them to.
The ultimate irony is that Oprah's toughest sale of Obama will be to black women. Polls show that they are overwhelmingly backing Hillary. Though most adore Oprah and are well aware of her long standing backing of Obama, that hasn't shaken their support of Clinton the least bit.
The other reason Oprah's lusty public cheer of Obama won't work is Oprah. She Ôs fabulously bankable, and much beloved, but she's also an African-American. And so is Obama. Oprah hasn't given the faintest hint that her tout and bankroll of Obama has anything to do with race, and is careful to make it clear that it's based solely on her belief that his competence and qualifications make him the right presidential stuff. However, an underlying suspicion is that there's more to it than that and that she's just as thrilled as many other blacks at the thought that an African-American can actually bag the presidency.
That's not exactly playing the race card, but for an untold number of skeptical voters, and that includes those that are enraptured with Oprah, it edges uncomfortably close to a racial motive.
Recent polls have shown that more whites than ever say they are willing to vote for a black candidate for the presidency and that they like Obama. They also say by big margins that he is to new on the scene, inexperienced, and unknown. His gaffes on foreign policy in debates, and his search for a killer position that will separate him from the other Democratic candidates hasn't done much to mark him as a sure-handed, experienced, public policy wonk.
Super celeb George Clooney came closest to sizing up the media and public's infatuation with Obama when he compared him to a rock star. That's not good.
How many voters would vote for Madonna for president, or even Clooney for that matter? That's not to say that endorsements don't help a candidate, but they have to be the right endorsements. The right ones come from seasoned politicians and respected industry, labor, or public interest groups that have the trust and confidence of voters, and a solid track record in fighting for legislation and public policy change.
Oprah can dump plenty of cash into Obama's campaign coffers, and that counts for something. But it's not the adrenalin shot that his candidacy needs. That Ôs the something even America's most beloved day time talk show host can't give.
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Albion Monitor September
10, 2007 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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