Hard to Blame Oprah for Not Wanting to Run for President

To paraphrase a famous Colin Powell line, it’s a calling she does not yet hear:

Oprah Winfrey says she doesn’t have “the DNA” for a presidential bid, dismissing the possibility of a 2020 run as “not something that interests me,” according to a new magazine profile.

Winfrey spoke to InStyle magazine before her rousing Golden Globes speech – she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award – that some observers heralded as a test of the political waters, but unless she’s changed her mind in the weeks since, taking the Trump challenge isn’t in her cards.

“I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not,” Winfrey tells InStyle when asked about Oprah 2020. “And so it’s not something that interests me,” she says. “I don’t have the DNA for it.”

Winfrey told the magazine she saw an “Oprah 2020” mug and thought it was “cute,” and even has met with (an unidentified) someone who offered campaign help, but despite urging by friend and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, a run for office is unlikely.

Who can blame Winfrey for not being interested? Think of the wrath the right wing unleashed upon Barack Obama for not being white and Hillary Clinton for not being a man. Then think of the nightly rhetorical hate crimes that would be committed against Winfrey on Fox News if she decided to run, to say nothing of the anti-Winfrey venom that would be injected into the bloodstream of our politics by the conservative cobras at Breitbart News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Who needs that crap?

Let’s not forget how viciously right-wing radio would have gone after Winfrey had she chosen to run. A July 2010 “Worst Person in the World” segment on Countdown with Keith Olbermann reminds us of just how low anti-Winfrey right-wingers can sink:

Speaking of which, there‘s tonight‘s hands down winner, Boss Limbaugh, and these quotes speak for themselves and for a diseased and failing mind. “If Obama weren‘t black, he‘d be a tour guide in Honolulu or he‘d be teaching Saul Alinsky Constitutional Law or lecturing on it in Chicago,” said the college dropout, Rush Limbaugh. “He wouldn‘t have been voted president if he weren‘t black. Somebody asked me over the—oh, I need to remember. Somebody asked me over the weekend, why does somebody earn a lot of money, have a lot of money. I said it‘s because [s]he‘s black.”

Said the guy who once said the media was conspiring to make Donovan McNabb of the Eagles to be a better quarterback than he actually was because he was black. “It,” Limbaugh said, “was Oprah,” said the guy who doesn‘t have half Oprah Winfrey‘s talent, or income. “No, it can‘t be,” he continued. “Yes, it is. There‘s a lot of guilt out there. To show we‘re not racist, we‘ll make this person wealthy and big and famous and so forth.”

Ah, there it is. See, the United States is tilted in favor of black people. That‘s the premise. We have made it so easy that human beings inferior to the great Rush Limbaugh, the fired-by-ESPN-one-month-into-his-dream-job Rush Limbaugh—inferior creatures like Obama and Oprah Winfrey have been made wealthy and big and famous and so forth. They have not earned it. They aren‘t actually talented. They haven‘t actually done the job. Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama and presumably every other black person in this country has not succeeded despite the fact that they‘re black, and this country is still filled with racists like this homunculus Limbaugh. They‘ve succeeded because they‘re black, and only because they‘re black.

Well, you heard it. It‘s naked, ugly racism. It is the distillation of Rush Limbaugh‘s view of our country, and the only other thing I can say is, Oprah, please, crush this schmuck, huh?

Rush Limbaugh, overt racist, today‘s worst person in the world.

Winfrey played a key role in Obama’s 2008 Democratic primary victory, and perhaps she will prove to be a kingmaker (or queenmaker?) in the 2020 Democratic primary as well. Had she run, Winfrey would have been assailed not only for her race and gender, but also for such controversies as the sleaziness of her protege Phil McGraw. By not running and choosing instead to influence the outcome of the 2020 Democratic primary, Winfrey could become an even more powerful force in American culture—which, of course, would be a nightmare for the alt-right. What I don’t know for sure is whether Winfrey’s involvement in that primary will cause a backlash from those who prefer that celebrities, even non-reactionary ones, stay the hell out of our politics in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.