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Did Obama Get Oprah Her Kennedy Center Award?

It’s worth asking whether, directly or indirectly, President Obama was responsible for Oprah Winfrey’s Kennedy Center Honor.

Obama hosted a White House reception for Oprah and four other recipients Sunday, and then they all trekked over to the Kennedy Center for a gala event where they witnessed  preening stars and wonderful performances.

Actually, I don’t know what a gala event exactly is, but this sounds like it’s it.

It’s arguable that, without her support, Obama would not be president.

There’s no evidence I’ve seen that either he or someone else who wants to reward her for her help assisted in her getting this prize. But, as the man with a mouth full of caviar said, something’s a little fishy.

The only problem with Oprah getting her award is that, although she’s widely perceived as an overall super-duper person, she hasn’t earned a Kennedy Center Honor. The awards are given to artists, and Oprah is not an artist, unless you consider self-promotion, making money, and public empathy art forms.

Oprah is the only person for at least the last ten years who is NOT an artist to be given a Kennedy Center Honor.

Here are the criteria for the awards, according to the Kennedy Center:

Since its inception in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors has redefined America’s perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists. The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor–the quintessential reward for a lifetime’s endeavor. At the same time, the annual addition of new names to the roster of Honors recipients charts the international standard of excellence set by America’s artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.

And here is why the Kennedy Center said it bestowed and award on Oprah.

Regarded as one of the most influential performers in the world, Winfrey’s internationally syndicated daytime talk show has changed American television and made her one of the world’s wealthiest women.

Winfrey’s roots in rural Mississippi make her rise all the more extraordinary — after getting a full scholarship to college, she started out on a Chicago morning show in 1983. Her candid, confessional style was unprecedented, and her rise in the ratings was fast.

Winfrey’s show airs every day, and its focus has shifted over the past decade to wellness, spirituality, and life improvement. She announced in 2010 that she will retire from television in the fall of 2011.

Any art doings here? Not that I can see. Indeed, she has made herself one of the “world’s wealthiest women.” So, perhaps making money is now an art form.

It has been estimated that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton was worth over a million Democratic primary votes to him, and that without it Clinton would have been the nominee.

She not only endorsed him, she put him on her show, she campaigned for him, and she promoted his book and sent it to # 1 on Amazon. And her backing helped spur people to donate to his campaign

And he’ll need her in 2012, to be sure.

So what do you give a gal who has everything?

A Kennedy Center Honor.

BTW, a tip of the hat to one of our readers, JE, who got me thinking by noting that Oprah was probably responsible for Obama’s election.

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13 Responses to Did Obama Get Oprah Her Kennedy Center Award?

  1. You must not be the only person to question why Orca was at the awards. I wondered why the mushy idea was proposed, something like, “these people bring us together and make us more people-ish” or something. That vague sort of well spring of yumminess for our culture might fit Orca into the mix.

    I wonder if Orca looked so uncomfortable in the photos because she knew she was being slid in where she did not belong. My opinion of her costume is that she was dressed as an old-fashioned black-and-white fountain soda with the reed-slim Stedman as her handle. Hasn’t this Stedman the Man in Her Life farce gone on long enough? One would prefer to see Gayle King in drag if Oprah must have someone in male clothes as an escort. At least Gayle has really been a friend to Orca.

  2. She acted in THE COLOR PURPLE…and produced some stuff about the hood on cable, can’t remember details. Still, I am sure he had a lot to do with her selection–if only bec someone wanted to suck up to him. I personally cannot STAND the woman–and it started the day she was gushing about being able to keep some clothes she posed in for some magazine–that was supposed to thrill us stupid little churchmice. Wow, wouldn’t that be fabulous? Just buy the damn dress if you want it! I never watched her again and never will.

  3. In all fairness, Opa did star in the movie “Purple Rain” (?) and was featured in a made for TV movie/documentary some years ago. (memory fails to recall details).
    However, in the grand world of artists or artistic people she would be way down on the list for this honor. Is this a Chicago-way payback, a gentle nudge to throw some weight to MrEmanuel’s bid for the Mayor’s seat or just stoking the old Presidental embers to keep the fire going? Who would say?

    The Kennedy Honors might be a really big deal to the honorees, but us yokels in fly-over country don’t care who won or why. All we know is that we weren’t invited to the party. Again.

  4. I had a fabbie comment but it didn’t upload. I cannot stand Oprah, suffice it to say. Like she is all for women! Yeah, sure. Here’s a car, girlfriend, I can afford it, I am the richest person around, did you know?. As for her art–she did act in THE COLOR PURPLE and her company produced some stuff about the hood for cable, I forget the details. But yes, I am sure someone thought putting her on the list would gain pts with the pres.

  5. Having lived in a shabby apartment in a block with restaurants, I know something about roaches and have never bought Orca’s “my pet roaches” story. It sounds like a modern spin on the prisoner befriending the rat or mouse in his lonely cell. First, roaches do not recognize different humans, unlike mice. Second, roaches all look alike and if you have one, you have 500, so how did she identify Millie and Vanilli, or whatever their name was. Third, if you keep roaches in a box they will get out or just plain die. They are not pet material.

    How many years ago did Orca appear in the Color Purple? I was in a high school play decades ago — gave a lot of pleasure to others — do I qualify?

    As for the stately build issue, I, too, am more stately than I wish, but I never made my weight loss or desire for weight loss into a national focus that garnered me lot$ of $ via tv shows, books, cookbooks, exercise tapes, and so forth. If Orca hadn’t promoted the issue herself, I probably wouldn’t comment.

    But her huge breasts shoved up on either side of her ears in this overflowing dress is definitely worthy of my attention.