Alright, Let's Talk About President Oprah's Golden Globes Speech

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 @guypbenson
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Posted: Jan 08, 2018 1:15 PM
Alright, Let's Talk About President Oprah's Golden Globes Speech

I'm being a little facetious with that headline -- but not too facetious, given the social media reaction Leah covered this morning.  Let me begin by saying that I did not watch one second of the Golden Globes awards as they aired Sunday night.  This wasn't a deliberate boycott on my part; I just wasn't terribly interested.  Plus, I hear that The Crown lost to The Handmaid's Tale in major categories, so I suppose I spared myself some aggravation anyway.  Nevertheless, the Twitter buzz about Oprah's remarks (she received an award honoring her 'contributions to the world of entertainment'), was so overwhelming that I decided to take nine minutes to watch it in its entirety.  I'm glad I did, because it was a damn fine speech.  Even if you're not a fan of her work or her politics, I'd encourage you to take a look:

Oprah's personal story is a stirring tribute to the American dream, and her remarkable professional achievements are undeniable. As others observed, her speech seemed properly calibrated to the "#MeToo" moment, in a way that didn't come off as obnoxiouly self-righteous or hypocritical.  Based on many of the instant reviews, her statement was something of a departure from the nauseating self-congratulation and heroic posturing of the overall event.  This juxtaposition seems fitting:


Winfrey focused on what was actually important about the widespread allegations of sexual harrassment and abuse that bubbled to the surface late last year -- addressing young girls directly, paying tribute to victims and advocates who've sought justice in the past, and warning that a culture of toxic entitlement among powerful men (ahem) is ending.  Some conservatives may blanch at her impassioned defense of the news media, which was almost certainly an oblique criticism of President Trump, and others may not care for some of the identity politics sprinkled into her message.  But what she said was moving and important.  It also hit the mark tonally and was delivered effectively.  As she spoke, these types of responses began pouring in:


Oprah has flirted with the idea of running for office in the not-so-distant past, commenting that Donald Trump's electoral success (without mentioning him by name) was eye-opening for her.  Last night, however, she denied that she's planning to pursue the presidency.  Then again, her longtime companion was quoted as saying that she'd "absolutely" be up for it, calling that decision "up to the people," and other reports are swirling quoting close associates who say she's "actively considering" taking the plunge.  Hmm.  On the merits, Ms. Winfrey has all the name recognition of Trump, a (genuinely) self-made personal fortune, and strong personal favorability (which would not be immune from the powerful effects of partisanship).  Her fluency with issues -- and even her precise ideology, though she certainly leans to the left -- are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but those details seem secondary in the minds of many voters.  She'd have plenty of time to bone up and roll out a platform, if she chose to do so.  

Last night has sparked another giddy round of media speculation about her intentions, but I don't think presidential rumors should be taken seriously -- yet.  If she starts to pursue additional concrete steps toward a potential White House bid over the next few years, we can always revisit the topic.  But for now, let's simply appreciate a well-crafted speech, suited to a watershed cultural moment, that stands on its own.  I'll leave you with NBC's explanation of a bizarre tweet from the broadcast network's official account celebrating Winfrey as "OUR future president" -- which has since been deleted:


It did not escape the notice of scores of acidic social media posts that 'girl power' fist-bumping was an interesting look for a television network that launched Donald Trump into the stratosphere of fame, employed Matt Lauer for decades, and did everything it could to kill its own reporter's well-sourced expose on Hollywood mogul and accused serial sexual assailant Harvey Weinstein.