Oprah Winfrey has endorsed Barack Obama, and she went on a whirlwind campaign tour with him this week.
I really didn't need to tell you that, did I?
It's all the news. Oprah and Obama on the road. People crowding into hockey stadiums to see Oprah. Oh, and to hear Barack Obama.
Look, I think it's great. Oprah is a powerful woman, and she throws her power around in some really good ways. If she wants to help get Barack Obama elected, I say "good for you!" Indeed, it might just be good for all of us.
What's been really amusing this week, though, is to listen to people answer the only question the news media seems to have about this whole thing: "Does Oprah's endorsement make you more likely to vote for Obama?"
The first response most people have is a little laugh. A little "oh, my dear, please!" laugh. Then they generally say some version of "Certainly not!"
A woman on CBS Sunday Morning (which we record, of course) said that she would choose her own president, and Oprah's endorsement wouldn't sway her vote. The interviewer (a clever and creative soul--you have to watch that show if you don't already--but don't stay home from church to do it) actually asked a follow-up question: "Has Oprah ever convinced you to buy a book?" The woman answered, "All of them."
So Oprah can tell us what to read...but not who should be president. Because that is a "community decision" and "an individual choice" and "a personal responsibility." These are all paraphrases of statements I heard people make about Oprabama.
So true. It is the responsibility of every American of voting age to give careful consideration to the choice of a presidential candidate. Oh, and drag your behind to the polls and vote. Shirking this responsibility is shameful. Sorry, but it is.
I agree that one oughtn't let Oprah make up one's mind. One's mind should be open to all of the choices, and one should do the research needed to choose the best person for the job, whoever that person should be.
But in the midst of all of the pooh-poohing of the "Oprah factor," a Gallup poll was released this week as well. The nice folks at Gallup asked folks whether they would vote for certain types of candidates--you know, like Mormon types. Seventeen percent said no, they wouldn't vote for a Mormon candidate. Here's the rest of the data, with the category first and the percentage of those polled that absolutely will not vote for that sort of person:
A woman 12
A homosexual 41
An atheist 48
I suppose I should be happy that I am currently less reprehensible to the average American than an atheist. Yeah, not so much.
So all week long we heard all of this rhetoric about the importance of choosing the best possible candidate. But Gallup calls random people on the phone and the truth comes out. The best possible candidate had still better have the right stuff (and I mean that as a euphemism for genitalia and pigmentation and sexual orientation and religious beliefs, just in case it's unclear).
Apparently everyone is happy with a white, male, straight, Protestant candidate. Because, hey--they've been running the country since, well, forever, and look how well it's going!