In what is arguably one of the most misguided efforts of the 2008 presidential campaign, the Florida Federation of Republican Women are calling for a boycott of the Oprah Winfrey Show and encouraging women in general to cancel their subscriptions to O Magazine. This, they say, because Oprah will not be interviewing Republican Vice Presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin on her daytime television show until after the elections. Given that Oprah will neither interview democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, it's an odd stance for the Republican women, but no more peculiar than the choice of Palin itself, a middling amateur who could only muster "What spunk!" of Senator Hillary Clinton, among other televised oral atrocities.
"We find it an abuse of her power - gained on the backs of our patronage of her advertising empire --- to use her program to so blatantly support Obama in the face of this historic moment," states FFRW President, Linda Ivell in a media alert. But here's where apparently they draw the line: "The women of my organization stand united in our stance for fair and balanced reporting."
That Oprah Winfrey is not a reporter (her best friend Gail is, sort of) and that her program is not a news broadcast but rather a daytime entertainment talk show, doesn't seem to be of import. Also perplexing is the following declaration: "...members respect Ms. Winfrey's personal endorsement of the Democratic ticket as every American is entitled to their personal opinion and vote."
Personal endorsement? When Oprah announced her support of Barack Obama on the Larry King show last year, she didn't do so as a private citizen who has a right to voice his or her opinion; she did it as the brand name that is Oprah Winfrey. One who has a powerful platform with a cultish following of middle-class women who do not distinguish between citizen Oprah Winfrey and the influential, multimillion dollar media mogul who stamps her name on virtually every project she tackles.
But the logic of this boycott at this particular time is beyond me for another reason: In what respect would an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show by Governor Palin help her win the election? At the risk of alienating a good amount of her seven-plus million viewers, many of them supporting Hillary Clinton for President, during the primaries Oprah Winfrey went ahead and endorsed a man. Still, her mostly female audience continues to perceive Oprah a champion of women's rights, therefore clearly at odds with Palin's positions on hot-button topics such as abortion and sex education. It's safe to assume that these, rather than the Alaska Governor's understanding of the Bush Doctrine, would be the topics Oprah would want to discuss were the candidate to appear on her show. I would even bet she'd expect an intelligent discourse rather than rehearsed sound bites with lots of "Oprahs" tossed in. And just how would Palin handle the wrath of Oprah when it came to questions on book banning, birth control and homosexuality?
I'm not particularly a fan of the talk show Queen (although, what spunk, huh?). And I found her startling endorsement of Obama rather harebrained, as she's never been one to offer much in the way of political acumen. But since she stuck her toe in the murk, now would be a good time for her to dive in. The Obama camp should be seeking her out for another big round of star power. A good, Church-going Christian with no qualms about sprinkling the G-word into her show every now and again, Winfrey ought to reach out and dazzle all the God-loving/God-fearing women who admire her but who may also be swaying towards the Sarah Palin ticket.
Furthermore, if Oprah truly yearns to make an impact on this upcoming election, instead of talking about diets and beauty makeovers, or interviewing Tatum O'Neil and Gwyneth Paltrow, how about hosting stimulating, analytical discussions about some of the crucial issues in this election that directly affect all women: our failing economy, the war, health insurance, the environment, the mortgage crisis and yes, why Roe vs. Wade should never be overturned. Now there's a meaty boycott the Florida Republican women can sink their teeth into.
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