Oprah for president? Not so fast


I have a lot to say about the Jan. 7 broadcast of the Golden Globes, and about one-third of it is printable.

Oprah Winfrey is lovely. She gives a heck of a speech. There’s no question she’s a humanitarian and a survivor and a highly intelligent person who people respect and listen to. I feel empowered when I hear her say, “Time’s up.”

But of course I do. I don’t think there are many people who are pro-abuse and pro-discrimination, at least publicly.

However … in a world where we scrutinize just about everyone’s background to ensure they are educated, skilled and “qualified” – whatever that means – for every job from the cashier at Dollar General to sanitation worker to chief financial officer, we’re willing to hand out the presidency of the United States of America to celebrities? It shouldn’t be trivialized to a popularity contest.

What’s next? Taylor Swift for president? How about that guy on “Game of Thrones”? Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg; he seems to be a pretty good businessman.

It’s out of control.

I realize there is going to be a great argument that Ronald Reagan successfully transitioned from actor to governor of California and, eventually, commander in chief. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor and I guess he did OK.

I don’t think our politicians need to be Rhodes scholars or military veterans or Academy Award winners. The criteria is just fine as it is, and I’ll be the first in line to vote for a female president … when the right female puts her hat in the ring.

Personally I’d like it if presidential candidates’ resumes included, say, a stint as a state representative or at least a mayor. We’ve all had jobs where we’re in a little bit over our head, and they say the learning curve is about a year. Well, the president of the United States of America doesn’t really have a whole year to screw up and learn from his or her mistakes. Those mistakes can cost jobs, the economy, health care and lives.

I don’t know what the daily duties of an elected official entail, beyond what I’ve seen on “The West Wing” and what I learned from many years of covering municipal government and a stint as communications director for the city of Bryan. How can we expect celebrities – albeit very intelligent celebrities – to know how to manage foreign policy and nuclear missiles and North Korea and ISIS? I don’t even know what some of those words mean.

I think we’ve become a little too quick to jump on the bandwagon calling for a new commander in chief because it’s a likeable person who gives good speeches. That’s not fair to the Cory Bookers of the world who paid their dues and actually studied public policy and sought elected office – and lost – only to run again and again until he finally got elected. Booker, who is now a U.S. senator, actually moved to the projects while running for the Newark, N.J., City Council, because he wanted to better understand the concerns of his constituents. There’s a great documentary called “Street Fight” that has more insight on his story.

And I’m not saying that Cory Booker is perfect, or that Oprah Winfrey is imperfect. I’m just saying this is an important position. We’re talking about the commander in chief, not the student council treasurer. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Scooby Doo is the president, as long as he’s surrounded by an intelligent group of leaders in his cabinet who can make good decisions and provide sound advice … But shouldn’t we want the very best for our country?

I think we owe it to our veterans, our teachers, our nurses and all Americans to strive for greatness. Let’s let Oprah do what she does best and not make a knee-jerk decision based on a great speech at an awards ceremony for people who play pretend on movies and TV.

We had a bit of a swing and a miss in the last presidential election; some would even say the last several elections. Let’s not do that again.

April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at editor@sealynews.com.


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