Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oprah's Lemmings

Wanted: American voters not influenced by shallow daytime television talk shows and a celebrity-obsessed culture.

"In Oprah We Trust" graces the op-ed page of The Washington Post today. It's written by academics Carol Darr and Susan Tifft. Ms. Darr is the co-editor of "Poli-fluentials: The New Political Kingmakers."

Ms. Darr explains "poli-fluentials" are important because "the people they know look to them for advice and trust their opinions . . . poli-fluentials are aggressive in promoting causes and candidates they favor. They are socially active, and the ones with the largest networks also tend to be the most partisan. This makes them particularly valuable in primaries."

In other words, politically indifferent Americans must rely on a "poli-fluential" such as Oprah Winfrey to tell them to vote for Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or another candidate in the Democratic field. These are voters who don't pay the slightest attention to current events, don't watch the evening cable television political programs and probably believe The Prince is about William or Harry.

Do we want them as swing voters in a presidential race? We're talking about individuals so detached from the political process that they need the woman who recommended A Million Little Pieces to tell them which candidate-designated area to stand in once the Iowa Caucus begins next month.

The voters who comprise this new "O" factor are being insulted, and they don't even know it. In fact, many revel in being part of a new, potentially important demographic.

Both Republican and Democratic pundits predict Oprah could be the difference between winning and losing. If exit polls do show that she was indeed the difference-maker, it won't be too difficult to guess what Hillary and Edwards will be thinking the night of January 3: A poli-fluential just convinced thousands of poli-ignorant Americans to vote for Obama.