Oprah Could Be A TV Star President Who Makes Sense

by Margaret Judson
Mike Windle/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On principle, it seems silly for television stars to start lining up to be president — by nature of the profession, a TV star hasn't put in the hours building the experience with and knowledge of government that would make them a successful president. To many critics, former Apprentice host-turned-President of the United States Donald Trump epitomizes this problem. But is an Oprah presidential run a different story?

In a recent interview, the Emmy-winning and Oscar-winning icon revealed she may be considering a run for president. And while I have my concerns with Hollywood celebrities running for president, all things considered, it might not be the worst idea.

In an interview for Bloomberg's The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations, Rubenstein asked Oprah, "Have you ever thought that, given the popularity you have, we haven't broken the glass ceiling yet for women, that you could actually run for president and actually be elected?"

"I never considered the question, even a possibility," Oprah responded.

However, Rubenstein then countered, "It's clear that you don't need government experience to be elected president of the United States, right?"

And here's the juicy part that the legion of Oprah devotees will hang onto for dear life: "That's what I thought! I thought, oh gee, I don't have the experience, I don't know enough, and now I'm thinking 'Oh.'"

It's not the first time the presidential issues has come up — people like Stephen Colbert have asked Oprah about running for office before, too. Until now, the answer has been a consistent, "No," because, as she showed in the interview with Rubenstein, Oprah understands that a TV star does not necessarily a politician make.

By the same token, though, there's something to be said about questioning why so many pundits and analysts cringe or, at least, can't fathom the thought of a TV celebrity be a successful political candidate. That mental block can at least partially explain why so many political experts brushed off Trump's own candidacy.

Think about it ... what is a TV star, anyway? Potentially, it's somebody who relates well to people and is able to rally those people for a cause. Potentially it's someone who can bring people together and make diplomatic choices that benefit large groups of people.

Certainly not all — in fact, most — TV stars do not fit this qualification. However, Oprah does. Though she gained fame from her talk show, Oprah has turned her career into a philanthropy-based one, making her an especially interesting choice because of the marginalized groups she's made a point to represent and has a history of fighting for those people.

The important point Rubenstein makes when he specifically highlights Oprah's "popularity," is the part about having a strategic plan to actually get somebody elected.

That's not to suggest that the goal should be for the most popular person to win, necessarily, but it is to get behind the mentality of thinking strategically in terms of actually getting someone elected is necessary in order to achieve that goal — getting behind a qualified candidate, only considering his or her resume in a vacuum, doesn't seem to be enough in and of itself.

Think of politicians past who have leveraged name recognition into successful political careers like Ronald Reagan, Mike Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken, Fred Thompson, and Jesse Ventura, to name a few.

Just because you're on TV doesn't mean you should be president, but with Oprah's disposition, popularity, and unique experience, she could be a special case.