1. Opinion

Goodman: Why Oprah for president makes sense

This image released by NBC shows Oprah Winfrey accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP) NYET625
Published Jan. 9, 2018

Can one performance make a president?

This week, in a made-for-America moment, Hollywood created a script that provided therapy for a nation driven by division and mired in disillusion. Only this time, unlike a year ago, the nation cheered not for an "apprentice" but for a bona fide, real world "star."

At a time when most Americans find the present hard to swallow and the future difficult to fathom, Oprah Winfrey went beyond her favored "color purple" to paint a picture resplendent in red, white and blue.

In less than 10 minutes before a cheering crowd, Winfrey, raised by a housekeeper trapped in poverty, raised the bar for all of us by delivering a message to the "world of now" that salved the conscience and nourished the soul.

Delivered with character, conviction and hard-learned goodness, Oprah chose her Golden Globes tribute as an opportunity to talk to us, every one of us. She invoked gender and bias and politics before transcending all three in favor of a far simpler takeaway: We are better than this. We've just got to be better than this.

Her timing couldn't have been more appropriate, or her message more needed.

Washington is paralyzed with partisan pattering. The media is consumed with Russian-fueled collusion and Bannon-borne delusion. Freezing temperatures are numbing half the nation, while North Korea is minting nukes at a rate that's stunning the entire planet.

So could Oprah's missive to America become another spontaneous moment of ascension akin to the classics (a la William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech, or Mario Cuomo's "Tale of Two Cities" declaration, or Barack Obama's "One America" stunner in 2004)?


More importantly, should Oprah Winfrey now be considered a serious contender for president?


Prior to her Golden Globes speech heard 'round the globe, Oprah's life story presents ample evidence that she may have enough of the "right stuff" to help right the country. Up from the bootstraps, armed with courage and vigor, Oprah survived the loss of a child, and loss of her innocence when sexually molested by relatives. She persevered in the dog-eat-dog world of media to become America's all-time premier talk show host and personality.

A billionaire several times over, and the leading black philanthropist of all time, Oprah has devoted herself to helping others through literacy, self-improvement and spirituality. Her campaign slogan kind of writes itself: "This Time We're Going with One of Our Best. Oprah Winfrey for President."

If Oprah takes the plunge, will she sink or swim?

Here's what we know:

She's an outsider to the political derbies that have elevated and (at times) desecrated the more conventional names that populate Washington insider wish lists. Former Vice President Joe Biden: grand, but a bit too grand in age. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont: been there, done that. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts: too liberal. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California: too soon. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: too threatening to party elders. Starbucks' Howard Schultz: too soft. The Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban: a little too hard.

In Oprah, Democrats have a self-made American success story that appeals to the underdog in every one of us. More importantly, as the traditional political players play to empty houses, Oprah could pack the house as she's done for more than 33 years on the nation's greatest stage: television.

She would satisfy the public's thirst for something new and something better, and would align with the emerging new power center in American politics: moms, minorities and millennials.

Finally, when it's time to persuade in prime time, you'd have to believe her performances could prove Oscar-worthy and Reaganesque.

Of course, we don't yet know where Oprah stands. On national defense, the minimum wage, jobs, Social Security, health care, immigration, foreign policy, sanctuary cities, free college education, the Second Amendment, the 14th Amendment, you name it.

Further, we are still in the 2020 presidential preseason, where the road to the promised land is full of unscripted churns and turns.

Of course there is a rich irony in all of this. Because if Oprah runs and ultimately wins, she'll have one person to thank for paving the way — President Donald Trump.

Rest assured, he'd take credit for it. All of it.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media consultant based in St. Petersburg and the first Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


  1. Sarah Rumschlag and her son Henry Rumschlag, 7, of St. Petersburg march during the science rally and march at Poynter Park in St. Pete. KAIJO, CHARLIE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Friday’s letters to the editor.
  2. The line for free HIV testing during the Pinellas County World AIDS Day event at Williams Park in St. Petersburg. LUKE JOHNSON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The state has mishandled the epidemic in the past, but lawmakers can get it right now. | Column
  3. The Florida Power & Light solar facility is seen in Arcadia. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Help the markets determine winners in the renewables the Sunshine State needs. | Column
  4.  Jim Morin -- MorinToons Syndicate
  5. Noah McAdams, 3, has leukemia, and his parents didn't want to go along with the chemotherapy his doctors prescribed. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    The state acted correctly by interceding on behalf of Noah McAdams, a 4-year-old leukemia patient.
  6. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  7. Editorial cartoon for Thursday from Times wire services LISA BENSON  |  Washington Post Syndicate
  8. Yesterday• Opinion
    Plumes of steam drift from the cooling tower of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. RON SCHWANE  |  AP
    Thursday’s letters to the editor
  9. Nearly three dozen trees were cut down at a half-abandoned trailer park along Gandy Boulevard in August, enraging tree advocates and sparking another battle between the city of Tampa and a new state law that removes local government authority over tree removal. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
    The Florida Legislature made it easier for residents to cut down trees without permission from local government. Now everybody wants to do it.
  10. Editorial cartoons for Wednesday from Times wire services Andy Marlette/Creators Syndicate