Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland

By Kurt Andersen

Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.”

Despite the “magical thinking” reference, neither Williams nor other skeptics have seriously addressed the big qualm I have about the prospect of a President Winfrey: Perhaps more than any other single American, she is responsible for giving national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking, from pseudoscientific to purely mystical, fantasies about extraterrestrials, paranormal experience, satanic cults, and more. The various fantasies she has promoted on all her media platforms—her daily TV show with its 12 million devoted viewers, her magazine, her website, her cable channel—aren’t as dangerous as Donald Trump’s mainstreaming of false conspiracy theories, but for three decades she has had a major role in encouraging Americans to abandon reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. And you can be president, and you can, and you can and look under your seat there’s the button for the nuclear codes.

    Denish Desouza Secretary of State

    Deepak Chopra Chief advisor on science

    Gwyneth Paltrow Secretary of health

    Couldn’t be worse than Trump could it?

  2. It could well be worse than Trump. I’m reading comments from people who should be allies against the stupid, squealing in delight at the prospect of President Winfrey. So many Americans seem unconcerned about amateurism in place of expertise, to say nothing of New Age bilge.

    Trump, is so nakedly poisonous that there is a decent chance the body politic will vomit him back up. Winfrey is saccharined poison, well-intentioned hopeless bunk.

    Grow up voters.

  3. I really want to leave this shithole of a country. (sorry for swearing mods).
    I can’t see the nomination going to another godbotherer. Please tell me Americans aren’t that stupid? (please lie to me)

  4. Reckless, I don’t know. And that is the point. We have gifted people other than Oprah with experience in law and politics.
    Bernie and Warren is the dream team most people I know are talking about. That combo may be winnable.
    But Oprah is a big bet. A woman and a black woman. The right will not accept that.
    However, I would like a new Pontiac.

  5. alf

    Bernie and Warren is the dream team

    I don’t dare to hope that high. Can’t take another terrible disappointment but that is a dream team indeed.

  6. I think you guys have missed my question mark at the end 😉

    I agree the idea that the democrats would try to beat the republicans at their own stupid game rather than address the real issues that lead to people voting for a raving narcissist like Trump is truly shocking.

    I cannot think of anywhere in my life where I don’t want a competent trades person fixing my plumbing or electrics, working on my car. Let alone massively important roles like brain surgeon, airline pilot or leader of the free world!

    The idea that Oprah would follow Trump! How much better would it be with her feeling and emoting her way through the world of politics. America if you are going to throw your clout around and let’s face it if your economy tanks so do the rest of ours – then you really need to give the rest of us a least a fraction of a vote. 10% would be fine. I’d be happy to put in a postal vote. You see in our country -if we were allowed to vote in your elections we all have pop down to the local school and fill in a vote form on a piece of paper with a pencil in a disposable cardboard booth.

    Alf1200 – Your welcome here down under. Just don’t come via a small boat – that might get a bit sticky for you.

  7. Reckless,

    No, we (I) knew it was a rhetorical question and I was agreeing.

    I have a novel novel idea. Childhood over-imitation where children trust the most obvious adult figure against evidence and reason gets turned off by puberty, just like the production of lactase should disappear sometime after being weaned. But like half the worlds population, the western half societies evolved to keep the childish capacity for milk drinking.

    The wealthy USA evolves (just a little ahead of the rest of the western world) to keep this other childhood capacity of over-imitation. Trusting the strongest adult figure without regard for reason or the evidence before their own eyes when grown up.

    A slow motion train wreck for civilisation as the west follow the USA into a state of permanent indoctrinatability.

    The Chinese… all the Pacific Rim countries with IQs 105 to 108 become the saviours. Lactose intolerant and well rehearsed and demanding of fully adult technocratic leaders. Proper grown ups in other words because anything less would foment revolt again. The UK (100) follows the USA (98 and going down) down the tubes, metaphorically pushing dummy buttons on voting machines, reassured by the appointed grown-up figure to be uncritical of the outcome.

  8. Laurie, I guess I will settle for a new Pontiac then……
    Reckless, Thanks, no small boats for me. I’m going to be driving my new Pontiac there.

  9. Thanks Phil, I wouldn’t want to be considered someone who supports a Woo merchant like Oprah :).

    Your comment about the Chinese and Pacific rim reminds me of Jacob Brownoski in relation to the west loosing their nerve and the mantle being taken up in other places.

    You see this green energy. I just heard China just canceled the contracts for 150 coal fired power stations! It was simple economics probably Solar and Wind are just far cheaper and they are ramping up battery production.

    Of course it helps if you don’t get worried about being voted in next election you can just do sometimes whatever makes sense. Meanwhile in Australia the Federal Government tried to bully an energy provider into spending $500 000 000 to keep a broken down coal fired power station open for another 5 years, half a billion buys a lot of batteries and as South Australia’s record quick kick in to bump up power to compensate for another broken power-plant in microseconds 1000km away shows we still can’t get the federal government behind it. And all this with staggering heat waves striking up. We just had a 47 degree C day in Western Sydney (and yes I know one hot day does not make this climate change but these are happening with increased frequency). This is the sort of temperature I sure contributed to early deaths of the elderly, you expect these temperatures in the middle of our deserts not on the outskirts of our Eastern Seaboard Cities. Of course we’ll see the same climate denying shenanigans from the Government and the same pursuit of Adarni Coal mine. Idiots and idiots voting them in. Still we could have Trump, or Ophra.

  10. This is the sort of temperature I sure contributed to early deaths of the elderly,

    Oh wonderful! I’m over sixty and you invite me? How nice of you…..I can’t stand the temp when it hits 70 degrees. But thanks for the invite. I would have to live in a icebox to survive there. I do like snakes though.

  11. Alf1200 #8,

    Reckless, Thanks, no small boats for me. I’m going to be driving my new Pontiac there.

    Now this might cause some confusion for our Navy. I’m assuming you plan to put some floaties on the wheels and paddle across the Pacific. They won’t know whether to put you onto Manus Island (at least you’d have a car there) or fuel you up and (they’ll be a bit confused by you having the wheel on the same side. Can I offer an alternative. I knew the guy who invented this (I used to fly gyroplanes many years ago) his name was Mickey Walker and he worked for Weir Gyroplanes in England. In WW2 he helped design this among other innovative rotor craft to help win the War! Great Bloke, about 90 when I met him no longer with us, but I’m sure he’d be honored to see you modifying your Pontiac thus to avoid falling foul of our boat refugee policies.

    Range might be an issue, so I’ve thought of a solution to this as well. What we need is a series of airships cruising around the Pacific with runways constructed on the top which you could land – park re-fuel have a nice nights sleep in comfort a good cup of coffee with your morning pipe and continue your journey in comfort for a few hours until you get to the next airship. We’ll try to get this organized for you and others seeking a slightly more sane continent in which to live, I must warn you those we do have some dingbats too, Ken Ham (he was one of ours – you’re welcome). But we don’t tend to vote them in just yet. Regards.

  12. Alf1200,

    Oh wonderful! I’m over sixty and you invite me? How nice of you…..I can’t stand the temp when it hits 70 degrees. But thanks for the invite. I would have to live in a icebox to survive there. I do like snakes though.

    Yes that’s is Sydney though 😉 it’s a big place and it’s not all that hot everywhere. As for Snakes and other bitey things here abouts, every Aussie has their brushes with wildlife but my Mum’s shenanigans are worth a mention. I swear this is really true. As kids and still today we used to holiday at a terrific Island just off the coast near Brisbane called North Stradbroke Island. Anyway really terrific place and if you’re visiting Brisbane I’ll contact my sister or my parents and see if they can put you up for a couple of nights (seriously) my sister now lives there and my parent own a couple of units and often take over guests from overseas (Laurie you still owe us a visit too I remember). Anyway we used to swim at a beach called Cylinder and every now and then we’d get sharks come in in big numbers, schools of them – I think it is something that happens when breeding. Anyway this was a patrolled beach so the Surf Lifesavers set of the chirps on the loud hailer’s (bull horns you might call them – big speaker things you hold in front of your mouth) and called us out of the water. We all got out but my mum who kept swimming with sharks all around her, swimming under her. We (her kids) were waving our arms and shouting out to her she just kept waving back at us and swam with them for about 20 minutes. She was embarrassed on leaving the water and told us not to tell Dad.

    However on the news that night she had been filmed by the local news chopper which had been informed of the school of sharks and they made some comment about one lone swimmer not being bothered by the sharks. Mum was too small to recognize but Dad was quite insulting, “Look at that bloody idiot!”.

    We used to get large carpet snakes in our house occasionally growing up and Dad would catch them and release them on the local golf course (before they could eat our cat who used to get really nervous for a couple of days before we’d find it curled around a railing in the lounge room- we learned that if freckles – the cat was nervous look for a snake). We caught a particularly big one one year about 12-14 foot long and thicker than my arm (this one was not in the house but in our front garden). It was quite an operation and he was tremendously strong but we got him in a sleeping bag and released him in the nearby bush. He was massive and our confidence was up after having handled such a big snake (non-venomous but very strong). Anyway my Mum again was a little too confident and was on a Campervan (you call the RV’s?) trip and there was a large snake on the walking path so Mum took a photo and declaring it another carpet snake poked it with a stick until it moved off the path. When the photos came back she showed us it was a bloody brown snake really deadly – fortunately probably too cold to be biting people. Still it’s the Box Jellyfish and Irukandji jellyfish you really want to worry about. The spiders are not too bad snakes can be dealt with but those buggers are nasty. Oh and don’t swim in the rivers anywhere North of Townsville unless you want to be eaten by a croc.

    http://www.smh.com.au/queensland/qld-teenage-crocodile-bite-victim-caught-trying-to-steal-car-20170620-gwuudt.html

    regards.

  13. At least the snakes here never try to sell you fruit or strike up conversations with you. You know where you stand with them, don’t stand on them and they won’t bite you (which would of course be easier if they didn’t look so much like every other bloodly stick out there). So short story, just don’t stand on any moving sticks and if sticks start talking to you first don’t buy any fruit off them and second, time for a brain scan.

  14. RM

    So congenial of you to invite alf and I to visit. However, even though alf seems pleased with the whole snake thing you’ve got going on there, well, I’m giving it some thought. Perhaps you could see your way clear to inviting this guy first:

    Wiki
    Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland
    The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by Saint Patrick[78] chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.[79] This hagiographic theme draws on the Biblical account of the staff of the prophet Moses. In Exodus 7:8–7:13, Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron’s snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes.[80]

    Apparently, sharks and killer jellyfish weren’t in his wheelhouse…not sure what to do about them…

  15. Moderator message

    We haven’t intervened before now because the comments about Australian fauna have been interesting, fun and informative … but we’re still early on in the thread, so we’d ask you to get back to the subject of the OP now, please. Thanks!

    The mods

  16. @OP …
    Americans to abandon reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary

    Yep. Oprah brought us characters like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, who are considered medical professionals and those two are positively dangerous.

  17. alf

    We know that Americans admire god botherers. An African American female God botherer will make certain voting blocks very happy. The wooists are another substantial voting block who will be thrilled with her. This needs to be watched. I’m worried.

  18. Unbelievable. You really might have thought Trump would have put an end to celebrity political ambitions once and for all, but it seems some people just can’t get enough Dumb.

  19. You can appreciate how far Trump has lowered the bar for fitness for the office of POTUS by the fact that Madam Winfrey, America’s Narcissist-In-Chief, purveyor of intellectual garbage, patron of charlatans, frauds and snakeoil salesmen, is mentioned as a possible candidate without everyone wetting their pants with laughter.

    That it should come to this…

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