December 8, 2007

"The Audacity of Oprah."

I'm always happy to see a new article by my old colleague Patricia Williams — did you know that my office at Wisconsin is her old office? — and here it is linked today on Real Clear Politics. She's been styling her writings as "diary of a mad law professor" for a long time. I can identify with that. So let's dig in:
...I'm intrigued by the brouhaha attending Oprah Winfrey's decision to endorse Barack Obama's candidacy. The Internet is positively foaming at her decision to campaign for him. Celebrities -- from Toby Keith to Sammy Davis Jr., from Barbra Streisand to Jon Bon Jovi -- have always stumped for candidates, but a lot of people seem to feel that Oprah is different. She's not a background singer; she is no mere decorative backdrop. Oprah can turn a book into a bestseller!, fume the blogs. When she lends her magic touch, it's somehow complicated or even unfair. I suspect that some of the controversy comes from those who like Obama and don't relate to Oprah's television persona, or vice versa. But it's interesting to contemplate: what does it mean that some people are so concerned about whether this particular celebrity ought to express herself in the political realm?

In a very straightforward sense, it's no wonder that the Double O's are such an arresting team: one of the world's most influential black men links arms with the world's most powerful black woman, and together they sell out an 18,000-seat arena in Columbia, South Carolina, so fast that the computers crash. It's an unprecedented performance of black power in the heart of the old Confederacy. For someone who lived through the most hateful moments of the civil rights era, it's exhilarating and hopeful -- and vaguely scary in the vertigo it induces.

Ha ha. Read the whole thing.

ADDED: Now, are the blogs fuming? Williams's piece is in The Nation, and she provides no names or links that help us understand if bloggers deserve her criticism. I haven't read much on this subject, and it doesn't bother me if Oprah supports a candidate. I'm not going to spend the morning fishing for blogposts that disapprove of Oprah, but I did see this on Politico:
Talk show hosts who interview politicians — regardless of whether their show is overtly political — typically shy away from getting too involved....

The day the news broke about her campaigning, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams raised the question of whether Winfrey’s jump into the political fray will turn off viewers.

“This could be great for Obama, no question about it, especially as he battles for women’s votes with Hillary Clinton,” Abrams said on the air. “But I think it’s dangerous for Oprah. Part of her appeal is that she is every woman. She appeals to Republicans, Democrats, Hillary or [Dennis] Kucinich supporters, on the coasts or in middle America. The problem is that Oprah is Oprah. But just as the campaign is getting particularly ugly, Oprah’s getting in?”...

Since Winfrey has displayed her allegiance to Obama, she has said publicly that it would be unfair to bring any other candidates on the show....

While that’s a clear disadvantage to her involvement, Winfrey has long been able to shake off any seeming crisis that might prove her to be the Teflon supporter....

That's awfully mild. Just some speculation about the effect on her show.

60 comments:

Ron said...

I would guess some of the effect on Oprah would be how Obama does. Even if he loses, Oprah could come out looking good, even perhaps as a model for political involvement. Where Oprah would be hurt would be if Obama did indeed have some skeleton in the closet, which could not be easily spun away.

Ron said...

I wonder the extent of how people perceive Oprah's endorsement in purely racial terms. Or how much is based Obama's policy positions verses Hillary's.

AllenS said...

I always thought Oprah appealed to white women more than black women. I'd bet more than a few black women are not happy about the O spending millions of dollars helping black girls in South Africa with the school she built, and nothing for the sisters in South Carolina.

George said...

Imagine the suspicious press coverage if Rupert Murdoch announced that he was supporting Candidate X.

Here is her stated reason for giving him her support:

“Because I know him personally,” Ms. Winfrey replied. “I think that what he stands for, what he has proven that he can stand for, what he has shown was worth me going out on a limb for – and I haven’t done it in the past because I haven’t felt that anybody, I didn’t know anybody well enough to be able to say, I believe in this person.”

Oh, please. The lady is a multi-billionaire media tycoon. She's worth $2.5B, according to Fortune and that was several years ago. Her company is privately held. Who knows what real estate she owns or what her holdings are.

She's from Illinois. Obama is from Illinois. I wonder what legislation he supported that she wanted.

This is about money and power, not race or gender.

Michael_H said...

The Opie and Obie road show will be fun to watch as it plows fresh turf on the political farm.

The fun part is that the results cannot be predicted. Will it be a collosal success? A big blah with no results? An embarassing failure? Nobody knows; we're all watching (and maybe secretly hoping to see a train wreck).

One thing for sure, If the Opster had gone campaigning for Hillary!, the MSM whoud have increased the "Hillary's Inevitable" phasers to warp speed.

Now all we can do is cross our fingers and wait for team Hillary! to start leaking bad stuff about Oprah in order to negate any muscle Oprah brings to the Obama polls in key primary states.

Tituspu said...

I am curious what or if Oprah brings to this campaign.

I am actually interested in watching her on CSpan today with Obama.

I am voting for Obama.

Tituspu said...

I am also interested to see if Obama will make a dent in the younger voter group. You always here that this group tends not to vote. I wonder if they may vote this election because he is running.

I like him. Peggy Noonan said something along the lines how she likes how he seems to really think when answering a question-I like that.

He's also hot and I would love to do him.

ricpic said...

From a thousand minarets let the word go forth: Black good; White bad.

Bow down. Bow down!

Tim said...

I'm not an Oprah fan, but I hold no animus either. Knowing some women who watch or read some of her stuff, my sense is they view her as a less threatening, more interesting and approachable Martha Stewart, but broader. And Obama, I think, doesn't provoke the same kind reaction that either the Hillary! or Edwards does - his politics are awful, but he seems to be a likable guy. Some will think her support racial - and I suppose at some level that's true - regardless, I think she gets a pass on this, no matter how the election turns out. Even if he turns out to be the new Jimmy Carter - which I suspect.

George said...

Tim--

Both Stewart and Winfrey have vast media holdings. But Winfrey is far more bulletproof.

You'll never read a book about her that sheds any light on her. Why? Everyone in the book publishing industry fears her influence. Same in the magazine biz. She's also a major player in the TV biz. So no meaningful coverage there.

She's also, of course, a black woman and such a nice or as you say "approachable" person. And everyone who works for her or appears on her show has to sign a confidentiality agreement. So much for approachability.

If she makes inroads against Hillary, and the Clintons have dirt on her, you'll see it on Drudge. My guess is that we'll see business or tax-related hanky-panky surface, not personal stuff.

AJ Lynch said...

Good for Oprah; good for Obama and bad for Hillary.

Can't wait to see how Hillary and her minions explain losing in Iowa and South Carolina. I heard Hillary has already dispatched the hubby to campaign in SC the day before the big Double O stadium rally.

Re dipshit Dan Abrams and MSNBC, he should focus on getting more viewers to his own crappy shows on the MSNBC network which btw is the worst-named network of all time.

Beth said...

Here's my take on it...

I've long had mixed feelings about Oprah. One the one hand you've got to give her credit for her longevity and all that m-o-n-e-y! On the other hand, well, I don't really like her.

That said.

I find that, for her, race trumps gender.

I think we can all agree that her longevity and money are both due to her loyal, white, suburban audience.

Yet, her first romp in politics is to back Obama not Hillary.

Really?

Isn't Oprah all about empowering women??

Because I can't really believe that she's baking Obama for his policies or ideas. Not that I could tell you with any certainty just what Oprah's politics are.

Too bad no one in the media/press has the balls to ask her if she'd be out campaigning for Hillary as the first woman president if Obama weren't in the race.

Somehow I don't think she would be.

http://www.bethmauldin.com/archives/2007_11.html#002054

Pastafarian said...

I don't care what Oprah says. Ever. About anything.

SteveR said...

I agree with Beth, I admire her but I don't really like her

I also wonder if she'll expect to be treated as royalty or be willing to get down in the trenches.

P. Rich said...

It will be interesting to see how the Oprahettes respond at the voting booth to her support for Obama and whether this will tend to negate the angry fembot support for Hillary!.

Helluva dynamic in play. I'm thinking a cartoon series to run on CNN, or maybe a Hillary! vs Oprah mud wrestling match, two out of three submissions, loser gets Bill.

PatCA said...

This Pew report says 87% of blacks think Oprah is good for the African American community. So it is reasonable to assume that she is campaigning for the black vote, since that was assumed to be Hillary's, wife of the "first black president." I also think her choice is based partly on race and partly on his, yes, Carteresque (shudder) policies.

She can do what she wants. But since a few shows supporting the troops after 9/11, she has mainly featured liberals like the Goracle or Leo Di Caprio, ostensibly to plus their movies but mainly to answer her, ahem, impartial question "What should we do to help the environment?" "Elect an environmentalist." I'm sure they are not referring to the Republicans.

I think ultimately it will take a little luster off her star. So will her movie, The Debaters, if the portrayals of Evil Whites are as over the top as the clips indicate. She's a great entertainer but I guess she has enough money and fame now that she is just going to go for it and if people don't like it--tough.

Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Fagin said...

I'm tickled that an entertainer with much, much more money and influence than Barbara Streisand is in the game supporting someone other than "Hollywood's candidate."

peter hoh said...

re. Dan Abrams' quote: "“But I think it’s dangerous for Oprah. Part of her appeal is that she is every woman."

I think this explains why Oprah is backing Obama. He is a candidate who, unlike Clinton, has wide appeal among her audience. Even those who disagree with Obama's politics tend to like the person. It's kinda the opposite with Clinton.

Race trumping gender? I think Oprah is too smart for that. I think her calculation is based more on personality.

rcocean said...

Abrams is a liberal democrat in the tank for HRC. Hence, the attack on the big O.

Smart move by Oprah. Wins her friends in the AA community, most whites think it natural for Oprah to support a brother. Plus Obama is clean and articulate; just like her.

Joe said...

She brought attention to Cormac McCarthy, she can't be all that bad.

And I agree with Peter: her support seems to be based on personality, not policy. Which makes sense for a television personality.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Oprah has a lot of influence on the electorate. Think back on the 2000 election. At Laura Bush's insistence, Dubya appeared on Oprah. What had been a dead-locked race started turning to W consistently. But for the late release of the ancient DUI charge [which had a pretty solid effect on pre 9/11 conservatives], Dubya would've handily defeated Gore. Thanks to the "Oprah bump," Dubya was able to withstand the 11th hour bad news.

She might've regretted having that much influence [making George W. Bush appear likeable] and so she's putting all her efforts on her preferred candidate. It's her show and her use of influence. I applaud it. And in sheer likeability, Obama beats Hillary hands down. Maybe that's all Oprah will do, but that might be enough.

Zeb Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zeb Quinn said...

With Oprah and Obama it isn't primarily the gender card that's being played, it's the race card. It's an effort to get all the black voters to the polls voting for Obama, a partucularly potent potential in South Carolina. Oh, if they can get white women they'll take them too for sure, but that's frosting on the cake. It's the black voters they're after.

Blue Moon said...

Zeb:

I think Oprah's role is to convince white soccer moms that it's okay to not support Hillary. Sure there may be an effect on black voters, but frankly if race is important to you, I think you have already decided to vote for Obama. Oprah is the "Good Housekeeping" seal -- "I've thought about this so you don't have to." Which really is the whole point of all endorsements from George Clooney to James Dobson.

Revenant said...

I don't think supporting Obama will be polarizing. Hillary is widely hated, even among women; so are many of the Republican candidates. But Obama seems like a nice enough guy; I don't want him to be President, but his supporters don't annoy the hell out of me the way Hillary's do.

John Lynch said...

I think it's great. I don't mind celebrity endorsements. I think they should be honest about who they want to win.

Oprah got where she did with a lot of hard work, not her looks. For a female celebrity that's rare. She's a credible person even if you don't watch her show or don't agree with her about anything.

Also, she's not a negative person. Obama isn't either. I'm tired of negative, doom-and-gloom, politics. I'm attracted to Obama just for that, even though my politics are completely opposite.

Michael_H said...

This just in: John F. Kerry has announced that Moms Mabley has given her endorsement and will appear with him at an anti-swift boat rally in Hilton Head Tuesday.

Eli Blake said...

zeb and Beth:

How do you figure it's racial? 12% of Americans are black. That's one out of eight. So why are you assuming that because one black person does something to help another black person, that the explanation must immediately be race?

It's a fact that both Obama and Oprah have been movers and shakers in the Chicago community and in the state of Illinois, so her statement that she know him personally rings true.

So if you have a friend, and you know your friend to be a person who you respect and could do a job well, then wouldn't you do what you could to help him (or her) get that job? I did once. I was once under consideration for a job quite some time ago, but found out that one of my friends was applying for the same job. So I wrote a letter to the person in charge of hiring and withdrew my name as a candidate and said that I did not want to compete for a job against my good friend, David M.--- who I felt was highly qualified for the job. I don't know whether the letter I wrote helped him beyond removing one application for the pool, but for whatever reason, he did get the job.

I see this as a case of Oprah doing what she can to help her friend. That is commendable. Those of you who immediately jump to the conclusion that it is all based on skin color say much more about yourselves than you say about either Oprah or Obama.

Zeb Quinn said...

Blue Moon,

You aren't understanding me. Yeah, yeah, Oprah's TV audience is mostly white woman and, yeah, yeah, some of those will hop onboard for the ride, and of course O/O want to cash in on that as much as they can, but on a very fundamental level this an effort to get blacks mobilized behind the Obama candidacy. That's what their target is. They are putting up a wall of black solidarity. They want to create a juggernaut amongst black voters. They want an enmasse black reaction to Obama's candidacy. They won't say it like this for obvious reasons, but they want blacks to react to Obama's candidacy the same way blacks reacted to OJ's not guilty verdict.

And it's with South Carolina in mind. You get 99% of the black vote there and you've got most of the D party there right out of the shooter. That'll really get his candidacy jump-started. And then it'll catch fire.

That's the master strategy. Look for other black celebs to join in.

Eli Blake said...

Let me rephrase the question I just asked this way, zeb and Beth:

As you may know, Chuck Norris recently endorsed Mike Huckabee and has been involved in campaigning wth Huck, lining up the few other celebrity endorsements he can and even cut a commercial for Huckabee.

Are you claiming the reason he is endorsing Huckabee is because Huckabee is white?

I thouht not.

ricpic said...

Not only is race solidarity going on here but it's a good thing, it's normal. If blacks didn't support Obama, that would be perverse. Of course, this doesn't apply to whites. For whites it is social death to even hint that white solidarity would be a good thing for, ya know, white survival.

Eli Blake said...

ricpic:

It is truly bizarre to think that people must support candidates based on their racial/ethnic identity. That is true whether we are talking about blacks supporting Obama, Italians supporting Giuliani or Hispanics supporting Bill Richardson.

Don't you think that other things that might play a role in what candidate someone chooses to support?

You know, little things that don't matter very much, like say A CANDIDATE'S STAND ON ISSUES!?!

By the way, for the record, I'm a Mormon, and I'm not voting for Mitt Romney.

ricpic said...

I'm not saying that blacks must support Obama. I'm only saying that it's natural that they support a black. This seems so self-evident that it barely needs mentioning, IMO. But I keep forgetting that America has been ennobled by universalism. How retrograde of me. Of course, I remember growing up in NYC in the days when tickets were balanced - one Jew, one Italian, one Irishman - by evil old Tammany Hall, which understood, and served, human nature so much better, infinitely better than the reformers, oh the holy holy reformers, who cleaned out the augean stables and ruined everything for everybody forever. Thank you.

Zeb Quinn said...

Eli:

The fact that Obama is black is the sine qua non of his candidacy. Meanwhile, the fact that Huckabee is white is in no way important or relevant to his candidacy.

It's surprising that you can't see those things.

rcocean said...

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus and race doesn't matter.

The only reason Obama might be the nominee is because he's 1/2 black.

There's no way a bland, WHITE, mediocre, 1st term Senator from Illinois would be challenging for the nomination.

That a lightweight like Joe Biden would patronize Obama by calling him "clean and Articulate" says it all about his ability.

Michael_H said...

Wait! Another candidate has scored a major, major endorsement that will throw the polls into utter disarray.

This changes everything; it's a whole new ball game! A brand new horse race! It's a ball game AND a horse race!

Sean Penn has endorsed Ron Kucinich! Stop the presses. Alert the ships at sea.

That'll take the blaze out of the O&O firestorm!

Lawgiver said...

Secretary of Education Winfrey.

AJ Lynch said...

Ron Kucinich ??

That is a prescient typo - a hybrid misnomer to denote the two candidates who have the smallest chance of getting their party's nod.

Maybe the term "Ron Kucinich" can be used as a derisive way to mock whackadoodle candidates who have no frigging chance.

joewxman said...

Frankly i think Oprah has evolved into a narcissist with a savior complex complete with the need to shop at exclusive stores long after they've closed for the day. Unfortunately she has a following that is almost Christ-like in admiration. Still it should be interesting to see if the Obama Clinton battle really gets tight; what kind of trash the Clinton folks lob her way. In my view its lose lose for Mrs Clinton.

Michael_H said...

Sorry about that. Dennis Kucinich not Ron Kucinich, was endorsed by Sean Penn.

Oprah's Things said...

I just hope people research the issues and make an informed decision. Don't trust anyone else on whom to vote for. You have the right to vote and thus you have the right to make an informed decision. Research, Decide, Vote!

Beth said...

I referred specifically to it being about race more than it's about gender for Oprah - which I would think should be interesting because it has been women, and not blacks, who have helped Oprah gain the influence she has.

The question is still out there - would Oprah do as much for Hillary if Obama were not in the race? I don't think so. So doesn't that indicate it's at least a little about race? Maybe not, but I still think it's an interesting idea.

Ann Althouse said...

Beth, I just don't see Hillary as representing what is good for women. Maybe Oprah is in the same place.

Don Meaker said...

Wealthy Black Racists get a pass. (Rev. Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson call your office!) Corrupt Democratic politicians (sorry for the redundancy) get a pass.

I am pleased as punch to say that I have NEVER watched Oprah, never been on welfare, never been prosecuted for a felony, and never used an illegal drug.

Don Meaker said...

Ron Paul, and Dennis Kucinich: The Moronic Convergence. Hardly anyone remembers DK as the race baiting corrupt incompetent mayor of Cleveland who boldly led the way to Cleveland defaulting on its loans.

Paddy O. said...

One of the best Oprah episodes I've seen in years, okay one of the very few I've seen in years and years, was when Condi Rice was on.

It was a really great interview and a very nice show.

I wonder what Oprah would have done if Condi had run for the Republican nomination.

M. Simon said...

Oprah has a friend - Obama.

Obama has a friend - Rezko.

Rezko is very friendly with the Nation of Islam.

davod said...

But, but, Mayor/Ambassador Andrew Young just came out and said that Bill Clinton is still blacker than Obama.

Either the Clinton's are paying a really big consultancy fee or Young is truly colorblind.

Then again, it may just be a matter of how much dirt does the Clinton Investigative Agencey have on him.

Susan said...

I used to have a business making pottery and often did my many mindless tasks while watching Oprah in the afternoons. One thing that started really frosting my gourd were the shows that featured cast members of new movies where Oprah RAVED about the movie. I mean a whole hour of falling all over herself about how this was a movie that would change the world. Then I'd go see the movie and it would be monumentally awful. And get awful reviews.

So do I trust her endorsements? Not a chance. When I see Oprah hyping something I just say to myself I'm not getting suckered again.

Beckwith said...

“Because I know him personally,” Ms. Winfrey replied.

They both are members of Afro-centric, Trinity United Church of Christ (UCC), led by leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A. Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites.

hdhouse said...

The most illogical statement in the host of nonseq found in that balloon was "It's an unprecedented performance of black power in the heart of the old Confederacy."

First, although a backward, thirdworld state, the Confederacy really doesn't live on in the south and there specially ..there are good old boys who look at 2 blacks, celeb or not, as two blacks..is this what was meant.

Second, this has nothing to do with black power. this is celebrity power. this is household name draw. remember the Pope sold out the USC stadium for a mass 15 years ago. In a state where baptists outnumber snakes, this was curiosity more than communion.

Last, why the "black" emphasis. If chuck norris shows up with HuckFinn do the headlines yelp "White power returns"?

The article is racist. The subjects aren't.

cokaygne said...

This is good. Say what you will about either of the O's, they are nice and well meaning.

My spouse adores Oprah and watches every show. I find her (I mean Oprah, not my spouse) kind of naive myself. Obama seems to share that naivete and I worry about him as Prez being hoodwinked by some of the awfully cynical people one finds in politics.

Before this the idea of a Clinton-Obama ticket would have been dead in the water. The CW would say she or he would have to have a WASP male running mate. It is no secret that the Dems turn off most white males - it doesn't help when many in your party have a platform of judging everyone by race and sex and punishing those not of the now-favored group. The CW would say that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be the final nail in the coffin for the few remaining white males who vote democratic.

Maybe so; but with Oprah's help there might be a massive turnout of those who are not white or male that could tip the election in several states. Obama's presence on the ticket with Oprah's enthusiastic endorsement might even persuade some white males and others turned off by political cynicism - yes, both Clintons are at the top of the list for political cynicism, to actually vote.

Gedaliya said...

The only reason Obama might be the nominee is because he's 1/2 black.

Why isn't Obama 1/2 white?

knoxwhirled said...

Why have a conniption at the mere suggestion that Oprah might endorse Obama because they both are black?

Certainly it's inappropriate to reduce people down to race; but come on, no one is doing that here. It's disengenuous to suggest that it CAN IN NO WAY BE A FACTOR IN HER DECISION AND TO EVEN SUGGEST IT IS RACIST.

The fact that Obama is black might be a small factor in her decision, or none at all. In my mind, there's nothing wrong with it if it's a big factor in her decision. What's the big deal?

knoxwhirled said...

Secretary of Education Winfrey.



I admire Oprah's charity work, but I don't want her spending my money like she spends her own.

OC Domer said...

The "fuming", if there is any, is coming from the Hillary! campaign. To get nominated, Hillary! needs the support of the traditional Democrat constituencies (which includes the Black community) and women. Oprah's endorsement of Obama threatens to influence the votes of blacks and women in a way that does not favor Hillary!. If you are in the Hillary! campaign, or are a Hillary! supporter in the press or the blogosphere, you may well be fuming. If you would never vote for either of those two candidates, it's just an amusing side show.

By the way, now that Hillary! has released the content of Obama's kindergarten writings, I wonder if she is going to publicly release her own senior thesis from college?

William said...

Remember Mamie in Gone With the Wind? Oprah is an updated version of Mamie. Mamie was a strong, forceful woman who had no hesitation in telling Scarlet what to do, and Scarlet had no difficulty in accepting her judgement. The fact that Mamie was outsized and earthy gave her more gravitas. There is no such model for black men. If a black man is considered helpful to whites or supportive of their values, he is labelled an Uncle Tom and loses cred in the black community--look at Bill Cosby. Obama has a more difficult juggling act than Oprah.

Middle Class Guy said...

I do not get it. It seems that during this campaign, none of the candidates can do anything right; at least if you believe the MSM. Oprah is wrong for supporting a candidate, Mitt's speech was a disaster, Hillary can't stay on message, Rudy's love nest is revealed, Edwards is slamming evry celebrity who will not support him, Bill Clinton is hurting Hillary's chances...

On and on and on. I wonder whay the media is looking for in candidates and supporters.

Cedarford said...

Zeb Quinn - The fact that Obama is black is the sine qua non of his candidacy.

True. Without being black and "clean and articulate" he would be like thousands of other elite law school grads of white, Asian, hispanic backgrounds. Doing important things, but not considered credible running for President with his experience level.

What is scary overall about the Democrats is their frontrunner's lack of executive experience. None have any. Not in any election since the 19th Century have the Deomcrats run a field of frontrunners without either sucessful military or civilian executive positions in their past. (And that discounts Hillary's claims to being a defacto Co-President as 1st Lady as unlikely - the burden of proof is on her to show the paper train that she was at the major policy meetings and documented as on routing in the thousands of memos each White House "player" amasses each year as a "decider" or "senior advisor". Otherwise, she is more Potemkin Village than "It takes HER and a Village".) Edwards was a one-term Senator who would not have gone back to the Senate if he ran for reelection in NC.

Since they love JFK claims, remember that JFK was a commander in combat, served 3 years. He was then in Congress and Senate 14 years, rising to a leadership position. (And his counterpart Nixon was 3 years in the Pacific, also attacked by Japanese in combat, rose to LT Commander as a critical logistics whiz. Then NIxon had 14 years in Congress, Senate, and as VP.

How is Oprah gonna help Obama when he is pretty much an empty suit not ready to be President but running on being a black who went to Harvard and his ability to make inspiring speeches?
It might against other Dems with a lack of bona fides, but 3 of the Republicans Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney have between 8 and 24 years experience as governors and execs, with Giuliani and NYC a quasi-governor with a harder leadership job than most states.

It is a shame the Dems keep running weak candidates. Bush should have lost in 2004, but the Dems picked one of the least likable, least accomplished members of the Senate who was despised in school and the military by his peers, and who consorted with the enemy and enabled them in speech in wartime..

Oprah can reinforce Obama's audacity - but remember "audacity" is also used to describe someone dumb or overreaching - trying to smooth talk and BS their way through a situation they shouldn't be in to begin with.

"Audacious young black robbers attempt robbery next to FBI training facility."
"How was we to know the fucking bank was next to the fucking Feds? Didn't see know MF'ing F-B-I sign on no building 'fore buncha 9's from bank customers who were Feds was pointed on us before we even finished saying give us yo money" "If you ask me, they should be required to put a sign up."