Architect of Obama's campaign has advice for Oprah

Oprah is a cultural icon; a familiar and revered brand so well-known and pervasive that she no longer needs a surname...

Posted: Jan 9, 2018 7:41 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2018 7:41 PM

Oprah is a cultural icon; a familiar and revered brand so well-known and pervasive that she no longer needs a surname. She is brilliant, thoughtful and famously well-read, with a long history of activism. She has a great American story, enormous empathy and an extraordinary ability to communicate powerfully and authentically, as we saw during her speech at the Golden Globes.

Standing before a country hungry for a unifying, optimistic message, Oprah was kinetic, triggering an instant sensation on social media where #Oprah2020 has been blazing since. In an interview after the Globes, her longtime companion, Stedman Graham, tossed a log -- ok, more like a tree trunk -- on the fire when he said that Oprah "absolutely would do it," adding that it is "up to the people."

It's hard to say whether Stedman was acting purposefully or, moved by Oprah's remarkable performance and post-show libations, simply got carried away. (If it was the second, one wonders how the conversation went when the two got home?) And what about Oprah's best friend Gayle King, who said on "CBS This Morning " on Tuesday that Oprah is "very intrigued by the idea of running?"

More than one person mentioned to me that the speech reminded them of Barack Obama's electrifying baptism in national politics, his keynote at the 2004 Democratic convention. But Obama did not jump from that stage in Boston to the Oval Office. His was a long, hard slog from the warm embrace of the speaker's platform to the cold realities of life as a presidential candidate.

As Obama can attest, the campaign trail is replete with relentless pressure and unending indignities. A candidate surrenders control over his or her life and subjugates everything to the voracious needs of the campaign. Every past action and statement dating back to childhood is re-evaluated through a political lens. And perhaps most dauntingly for a candidate like Oprah, rather than choosing your own topics, the topics are foisted on you -- often by opponents or mischievous reporters baiting a trap.

Running for president is an excruciating gauntlet. Talented as Obama was, it took him months to hit his stride as a candidate and even longer to figure out how to power through the pain to savor the joy of leading a worthy cause.

I don't know how Oprah would do with all of that. Yes, she has navigated her life and career magnificently to date, with shrewd decisions that have made her a beloved billionaire and huge commercial success. But she did it on her terms, something almost impossible to dictate as a candidate for president.

She would have to overcome the doubts of Americans who may be more jaundiced about celebrity presidents after the Trump experience. Experience in government -- at any level -- may come into vogue.

And if it works out -- if she runs that gauntlet and emerges on the other side -- what she will have won is the gravest and most difficult job on the planet; one she would live with 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She also would enter a restrictive security cocoon from which she would never entirely escape for the rest of her days.

If you care about actually making a difference, the payoff of being the president can be extraordinary and satisfying. But the price is high.

When Obama was in the final throes of considering the race in the first days of 2007, I shared with him my political advice, which was that there was an opportunity for him in '08 that might never be there again.

As a friend, however, I told him that I wanted him to think clearly about whether he was ready to make that commitment for himself and his family.

"Well, it turns out that being Barack Obama turns out to be a pretty good gig," he said, acknowledging that he didn't feel he needed to be president to complete himself. "But if you're going to be in public service, why not try to do it at the very top, where you can make the greatest difference?

Oprah is not in public service and she very well may have the greatest gig on the planet.

Maybe she will yield to the urgent pleas of Americans looking for a celebrity force powerful enough to counter Donald Trump.

Or perhaps the same impeccable instincts that has made Oprah such a success will keep her from risking it all to enter an arena from which no one emerges unscathed.

Twitter is ablaze with chants of "Run, Oprah, run!"

I would suggest another:

"Think twice, Oprah, think twice!"

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 24850

Reported Deaths: 1050
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Hennepin8393613
Ramsey3019124
Stearns202113
Nobles15395
Anoka139970
Dakota132755
Washington63632
Olmsted62610
Kandiyohi4961
Rice4622
Scott4262
Clay42328
Mower3182
Todd3160
Wright3131
Sherburne2432
Carver2102
Benton1773
Steele1580
Blue Earth1400
Martin1305
St. Louis11814
Freeborn1170
Pine890
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Nicollet8710
Winona7915
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Watonwan740
Carlton730
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Lyon560
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Murray390
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Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault180
Swift180
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Sibley160
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Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
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Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope90
Aitkin80
Koochiching80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Big Stone50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19521

Reported Deaths: 535
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4227126
Woodbury275034
Black Hawk174644
Linn95577
Dallas90421
Marshall89416
Buena Vista7830
Johnson6149
Wapello59310
Muscatine55741
Crawford5162
Tama40327
Scott35910
Dubuque34418
Louisa34411
Sioux2750
Pottawattamie2638
Jasper26016
Washington1898
Wright1690
Plymouth1322
Warren1320
Allamakee1214
Story1151
Mahaska9410
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer706
Des Moines631
Boone620
Clinton611
Taylor560
Clarke550
Guthrie503
Cedar471
Benton431
Webster401
Monroe385
Shelby370
Hamilton370
Jones360
Clayton353
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Osceola330
Marion320
Cerro Gordo291
Madison282
Cherokee280
Lee270
Fayette270
Jefferson270
Lyon240
Monona240
Winneshiek240
Harrison230
Davis220
Dickinson210
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Sac190
Humboldt180
Hardin170
Lucas170
Clay160
Butler161
Hancock160
Delaware150
Emmet150
Keokuk150
Appanoose153
Ida140
Franklin130
Page130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Pocahontas120
Jackson120
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Chickasaw100
Kossuth90
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union80
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Palo Alto60
Fremont40
Mitchell40
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