“I haven’t been actively engaged before because there hasn’t been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” Winfrey told the crowd as she introduced Barack Obama, setting the stage for perhaps the most insulting and meaningless endorsement for a Democratic candidate in decades.
With that line, Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful woman in the media, is stating there has never been a political cause worthy of her attention until now. The Swiftboating of decorated war veteran John Kerry, who by many accounts had the election won before voter fraud in Ohio quite possibly gave the election to George W. Bush, was not worthy of her time. The disenfranchising of thousands of African American Florida voters in the 2000 election was hardly worth a mention by Oprah, who boldly proclaimed the obvious on Nov. 9 of that year, “we’re live in Chicago on November 9 and we are leaderless. Aren’t we still shocked?” Yes, we were. But probably not for the same reasons, Oprah.
In an election season where the GOP is severely weakened because of moral and ethical lapses, stunning losses in 2006, and a poor presidential field, Oprah chooses THIS point to get involved. She chooses THIS point to throw her considerable weight behind a candidate when it matters LEAST. Why? Not because he’s speaking the language of the common man. She’d be behind John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich if economic justice were here primary concern. She’d be behind Hillary Clinton if the combination of experience and policy were her concern. After all, the positions of Clinton and Obama are indistinguishable but Hillary has the experience to pull them off. No, she’s found cause to be “actively engaged” now because Barack Obama is black. Or as she said this weekend, “nobody can stand in the way of destiny.”
The message? Al Gore was not worthy of her influence in a time when the best economic conditions for African Americans ever were at risk of being swept away. John Kerry was not worthy of her influence when the best economic conditions for African Americans ever HAD been swept away and thousands of them were being slaughtered in a unjust war. Oprah, showing herself to be African American first and American second, who hasn’t voted in a presidential primary since 1988, finally engages herself in a time when it couldn’t be easier to do so simply because she and her candidate of “destiny” share the same skin color.