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Oprah Winfrey: an ambassador in the making?

OK, so Oprah Winfrey has dialed-back her political profile, adhering to a pledge to keep the stage of her daytime television program candidate-free.Oprah Winfrey

And she discovered that the off-stage help she did provide her choice for president -- Barack Obama -- could have some negative consequences.

But if Obama gains the White House -- and if Oprah is up for a major midlife job change -- she might  consider applying for secretary of State. Or, if the pay cut she'd have to take is simply too daunting, maybe she would offer her services as an occasional emissary to the Arab world.

The Ticket jests -- though not entirely with the latter suggestion; not after reading today's fascinating New York Times piece headlined: "Veiled Saudi Women Find Unlikely Role Model: Oprah."

Here's the gist of the article, in which reporter Katherine Zoepf details the effect of Oprah's show since it began airing in Saudia Arabia in late 2004:

In a country where the sexes are rigorously separated, where topics like sex and race are rarely discussed openly and where a strict code of public morality is enforced by religious police called hai’a, Ms. Winfrey provides many young Saudi women with new ways of thinking about the way local taboos affect their lives — as well as about a variety of issues including childhood sexual abuse and coping with marital strife — without striking them, or Saudi Arabia’s ruling authorities, as subversive.

Some women here say Ms. Winfrey’s assurances to her viewers — that no matter how restricted or even abusive their circumstances may be, they can take control in small ways and create lives of value — help them find meaning in their cramped, veiled existence.

The rest of the story can be read here.

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (7)

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I really like and admire Oprah and I'm thrilled to see her appeal crosses cultural and national lines.

I am tired of hearing about the stuff that doesn't matter. It's like shiny thing swinging in front of babies. WHY ISN'T AMERICA GETTING PISSED OFF?!

Who really cares about lipstick choices, hairstyles, salad green preference, hair plugs, personal injuries or injustices.

I am even sick of hearing about pregnant daughters, shooting moose, emails with stars, the tails of airplanes and the costs of a wife's dress.

Aren't we all tired of the lies and comments about religious beliefs, flag pins, "crazy" pastors and age?

As Americans, true patriotic, red-blooded stewards of the greatest political experiment (gone right) in history we need to be talking about three things.


Survival -
Of course we need to protect our people from terrorists and eminent threat. Let's force politicians to provide a better definition of these terms. Let's also force them to provide a better explanation of what they will do in the future to protect us from them.

Success -
Are we all going to just wait around to lose our jobs and start drifting around the country like poor American's in the 1920's and 1930's? The excess of the first couple of decades in the 1900s provided both good and bad. There were great philanthropists, but greedy people were the majority of the rich. The results was a crash of the markets, followed by something we call The Great Depression (with all of those important capital letters). The result of this was the rise of the Democrats, Social Security, industry regulation and many of the other protections that have eroded, under both parties, for the past 30 years. Yes these things slowed our growth and created a burden for the government (especially Social Security). But, they also ensured that we had protection against those within, or outside, who care about their own success at the expense of everyone else. Let's force our politicians to provide real answers to our economic situation. Let's be prepared not to like all of them (recovery may not come easy). Let's insist that they prove they have the support from Congressmen (and women) and Senators to force these idea to become laws. NO MORE EMPTY PROMISES FROM EITHER SIDE. NO MORE CANDY-COATED STORIES ABOUT HOW OUR "FUNDAMENTALLY-STRONG" ECONOMY WILL RECOVER WITHOUT EACH AND EVERY AMERICANS HELP!

Dominance -
The single most impressive thing about America has always been US, the American people. We dominated thought around the world not because we had the biggest army, or we had the most money. We dominated not because we spoke the loudest, were the most pugnacious or won the most medals in games. WE DOMINATED BECAUSE OUR STRUCTURE ALLOWED FOR PERSONAL FREEDOMS THAT WERE UNHEARD OF IN MOST PLACES OF THE WORLD. We were willing to accept a bit less from the government in return for allowing a little more for ourselves. Now we have candidates who actively (with support) announce the freedoms that they want to withhold or rescind. I TELL YOU WHAT, GIVE ME A STRONG ECONOMY FIRST. ENSURE MY SURVIVAL FIRST. Let us once again dominate by the simple fact of being AMERICANS rather than because we have more money or more guns.

If you have made it this far I am impressed. Many of our fellow citizens stopped reading long ago. They deserve whatever failed policies we have and what ever empty promises they get. SADLY 300 Million cannot steer a ship. It takes a small command unit to accomplish that. If you want to be part of the command unit, but like me, are not a big corporation or industry with an endless supply of cash and lobbyists, then please do two things:

1. Make a list of the fundamental or core issues you truly feel it will take to fix this country. *(this list should not contain anything issue that is specific to "you". It should be something that is applicable to ALL AMERICANS)

2. Contact Barack Obama's campaign and tell them that you will vote for him, but only if Mr. Obama can prove, not just talk about, the facts of how he will enact solutions. He must be able to show support from those who have the power to stalemate him (Congress and Senate).

The reason I have not put this same challenge to John McCain is because he has already made it clear, through words and action, that he believes the current process is at east 90% correct. I think it is much too far of a leap to expect him to change course (some might say again) at this late date.

Thank you from a frustrated fellow AMERICAN.

I stopped looking at the Oprah Winfrey show when she proved to me that she is a hypocrite by endorsing Barack Obama and went public supporting him. How can Oprah not see Obama's lack of a record of achievements, his arrogance and weak show of patriotism ? Can she not see his vague understanding of the serious issues facing this country today, and the long list of shady un-american hateful people tied to him ? Obama will meet with our foreign terrorist enemies without preconditions. Oprah turned her back on Hillary during the primaries, now she shows her dislike for Sarah Palin. I lost my respect for Oprah Winfrey and will never watch any show of hers again. She is the kind of person Obama would appoint to a job, along with his friends Rev.Wright, Bill Ayers, Chris Matthews and Michael Pfleger. Then, he would pardon Rezko and give him a job. After Obama raise our taxes as he plan, small business lay off workers, companies leave, we will all be unemployed. With a leader like Barack Obama, Welcome To Third World Life.

Well said June: I stopped looking at the Oprah Winfrey show when she proved to me that she is a hypocrite by endorsing Barack Obama and went public supporting him. How can Oprah not see Obama's lack of a record of achievements, his arrogance and weak show of patriotism ? Amen.

I don't watch Oprah, and I won't vote for Obama! The two go together like hand and glove! I am too patriotic and love my country to put it in Obama's hands of inexperience!

I really like and admire Oprah and I'm thrilled to see her appeal crosses cultural and national lines. Yeah maybe she can even appeal to Nancy Pelosi, but that's probably one national line even Oprah can't get across to!

You have to be kidding. She's only a talk show host, she's too narrow minded to represent the United States in such a capacity.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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