by Ashley Feinberg · January 8, 2018
In early October 1999, Donald Trump went on Larry King’s CNN show to announce he had formed an exploratory committee with an eye toward securing the presidential nomination of the Reform Party. This was a brief flirtation, but it lasted long enough for Trump to appear on television a lot and position himself as a meaningful celebrity for the new American century.
In the interview, King asked if he had a vice presidential candidate in mind. “Oprah, I love Oprah,” Trump said. “Oprah would always be my first choice.”
TRUMP: Oprah. Your competitor, right?
KING: No. Oprah is a competitor to no one.
TRUMP: You know what? I tell you, she’s really a great woman, though. She is a terrific woman. She is somebody that is very special.
I have not even thought about it. I guess we’ll see, we’ll see. Maybe that’s part of the whole process.
KING: Would she be someone ― I mean, kidding aside, that you might think about?
TRUMP: If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic. I mean, she’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman. I mean, if she would ever do it. I don’t know that she would ever do it. She’s got, you know…
KING: You would ask her.
TRUMP: She would be sort of like me. I mean, I have a lot of things going, she’s got a lot of things going, in terms of…
KING: What a ticket that would be.
TRUMP: That would be a pretty good ticket. But she’s a very exceptional woman.
Sunday night, the exceptional woman gave an exceptional address. Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech was gracious, empathic, rousing. She used her platform to give a voice to the marginalized and to defend the country’s most basic freedoms. It was in all ways the antithesis of everything Trump has ever said.
This made for a nice television moment. But because we live in a nightmare hellscape void of logic and reason, a consensus quickly formed among bien pensant liberals around the fantasy of Oprah running for president in 2020, as if a presidency could be constructed solely out of nice television moments. This was a revealing bit of wish-casting, suggesting among other things it’s not just Trump voters who are fatally unserious about our politics.
Against all odds, Donald Trump won. This fluke came about because a confluence of mistakes and terrible circumstances seems to have convinced people that the answer is to respond to nihilism with nihilism in kind. If we are to be ruled by political dilettantes, some people seem to think, why not a dilettante beloved by all?
Imagine 18 months of Oprah stump speeches. 18 months of Oprah getting to the heart of the matter, calling people on their sh*t. IMAGINE.