Her ability to excite Democrats and independents doesn’t hinge entirely, or even mainly, on whether she’s the un-Trump. It has more to do with her being the un-Clinton.
The metabolism of the media is such that we moved, within 20 hours, from the exhortation that Oprah Winfrey run for president (roughly 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday) to the reading of rune stones about whether she’d be game (8 a.m. Monday) to the analysis of her chances of victory (2 p.m.) to the deconstruction of what it all said about America (7 p.m.).
Sometime Wednesday, the speculation about what she’ll wear to her inauguration should have commenced. By Saturday, we’ll be reviewing the campaign missteps that sent her poll numbers into free fall, and the pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows can bicker over which of her confidantes and handlers are to blame.
But I’d like to go back to the analysis-of-her-chances phase and to something that came up among the analyzers: Is Oprah too much a replay of President Donald Trump, in that she’s another unfathomably famous billionaire with no experience in government? Or do their differences far outnumber their similarities, in that she’s a black woman as earnest about personal improvement as he is convinced of his superhuman perfection?
The answer matters, because there’s a compelling theory that when voters change presidents, they want a departure, someone poised to correct many of the flaws and fill in many of the holes that his (or her!) predecessor had.
But the question misses a big player and big part of the equation. Oprah’s ability to excite Democrats and independents doesn’t hinge entirely, or even mainly, on whether she’s the un-Trump. It has more to do with her being the un-Clinton.
Barely a day goes by when Trump’s behavior doesn’t fill most Democrats with despair, and they have spent the first year of his presidency torturing and berating themselves: How did such a spectacularly unqualified person with such a proudly offensive nature manage to win the Electoral College?
While there’s a brimming grab bag of possible explanations (Vladimir Putin, James Comey, Facebook), nearly all of the Democrats I know maturely admit that one factor can’t be dismissed, and their regret about it intensifies over time: The party put its chips on the wrong candidate.
Wrong not because Hillary Clinton is a woman — though that may have hurt — and not because she…