Well, the chances that President Obama’s re-election campaign would spark a revival of the heady days of 2007-2008 diminished last week when Oprah Winfrey’s people made it clear that the Cult of Barack’s most ardent novitiate would be sitting this one out.
This is quite a transition from four short years ago, when Winfrey served Candidate Obama as his impassioned voice across the wilderness of daytime television – preparing the way for the “bigger than all of us” candidate like John the Baptist in Christian Loumoutin stilettos. For example, who could ever forget this over-the-top declaration in Iowa: “I am here to tell you… he is the one! He is the one!”
Apparently, Oprah herself. Because there’s a good chance that “the One” is going to get canned and evicted next year, while Winfrey sits firmly ensconced in the studios of her ratings-challenged cable empire — fingers in her ears — yammering about the break-up of Miley Cyrus’ parents and the mating habits of koala bears.
What does this mean? Well, according to anonymous sources, Oprah has decided that Obama isn’t “the One” after all – at least “the One” who can deliver the ratings she needs. So, she’s ditched the chasuble and incense and is back to hawking self-help books and relationship advice.
‘For 2012, much has changed for Oprah. She now has own cable channel called OWN that has been struggling to find an audience — she isn’t going to do anything to alienate them,’ a TV insider tells me. ‘Unlike in 2008, when a drop in ratings didn’t matter as much for the queen of TV, Oprah is now fighting every day to get people to tune into OWN.’
Just shows how fickle the faithful can be. In 2008, Obama was “the most powerful thing” Winfrey had “ever experienced.” A “transcendent” new “level of consciousness for our country,” and a “new way of being in the world” whose tongue (gag me) was “dipped in the unvarnished truth.”
But now, according to sources; it’s 2011, things have changed, and Oprah has to make a choice: On one hand, she’s got the transcendent, most-powerful, New Way of Being in the World, and on the other, the Nielsen ratings.
Of course, the decision would have been easier to make, had she backslidden and fallen away at some earlier time. After all, the seeds of doubt could have been planted as early as Inauguration Day 2009, when the newly sworn-in president failed to mount the Capitol dome and rain fiery thunderbolts upon mortality, poverty, disease, supply and demand, carbon-belching SUVs, and George Bush’s retreating motorcade.
And who can blame Oprah for avoiding an encore performance of the 2007
con job campaign, now that everyone knows Obama didn’t hold back the tides of the ocean, or prosper the nation through government power grabs and deficit spending, or magically declare all mortgages paid, all gas tanks filled, jobs for everyone, and a chicken in every pot.
Those are much more plausible reasons for Oprah to ditch someone that she had previously shouted from the rooftops was “bigger than all of us” than the crassness of ad revenues and flagging viewership numbers. After all, she wasn’t so preoccupied with ratings in 2007 when she zealously set about converting her audience into fellow catechists in “the One’s” personality cult; insisting, when questioned, that Obama’s special anointing transcended any pretense of objectivity or professional decorum:
I believed that Barack Obama’s candidacy was bigger than all of us… and that I believed that he was called, that this is about a series of providences all happening at the same time, one thing occurring, another thing occurring, and that this has been coming, has been coming, has been coming, been coming…
Coming for what? To smack her for being so besotted that she’d taken to repeating herself like a broken record?
Not anymore. Somewhere along the line, the halo has fallen off… if it ever really existed in the first place.