Obama’s Oprah Problem
Like viewers, voters want honesty.

The Obamas and Oprah Winfrey in 2008


Lee Habeeb

She thought she was big enough, smart enough, and rich enough to be all things to all people. She thought her audience was either too in love with her to care — or too stupid to notice.

When you get as big as Oprah, you start to think you’re too big to fail.

And when you are loved by the media the way Oprah was loved, it only makes it easier to believe you can do no wrong, and harder to hear the sound of the audience tuning out.

Which brings me to Barack Obama, because in many ways his bid for reelection is ripe for an erosion of support for similar reasons.

Two recent examples:

When Trayvon Martin was shot, President Obama quickly weighed in, saying a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and then he said something that many Americans just didn’t understand:

“My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

The fact is, President Obama has two daughters. And yet he decided to talk about a son he did not have, in the course of weighing in on a controversial, unsolved criminal case that was beaming on the national airwaves. He did that instead of waiting a few months to talk about another national case beaming into America’s homes, one involving the kidnapping of two real-life little girls from their home in Tennessee, and the gruesome murder of two relatives.

Where was the president’s message to that family?

Our first black president chose to inject himself into the Trayvon Martin story, just as he had done when Professor “Skip” Gates of Harvard was arrested by a white officer back in July 2009.

He was a bit more careful this time, but still, we wondered, why was he butting in at all? And conjuring up an imaginary son to make his point?

And then came Obama’s words on ABC News about gay marriage.

“Same-sex couples should be able to get married,” the president told Robin Roberts of ABC News.

Is there anyone in America who didn’t really believe Obama supported gay marriage before this non-announcement? Even more interesting, this time he brought up his real-life children and introduced them into his story. “Malia and Sasha,” he said, “it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated different. It doesn’t make sense to them, and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

Strange. I thought it was parents who instructed kids on such complicated matters.

Within minutes of Obama’s ABC interview, he was being heralded by media types and gay activists for his courage.

Why did Obama do it? And how can a man who calls himself a Christian circle the square on gay marriage? Some do, but he never explained.

All week long, Obama basked in the afterglow of his announcement, an adoring media and an adoring Hollywood basking with him.