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If celebrities can tell us what books we should read, why shouldn’t they tell us who will make the best president of the United States?

In Iowa on Jan. 3, the battle of the celebrities, Barbra vs. Oprah, will decide the future of civilization — or, at the very least, help determine who might win the Democratic presidential nomination.

The ignorant sneer at the Iowa caucuses, since they involve only a handful of the citizens in a state that has fewer than three million residents and is known to foreigners mainly as the place that isn’t Idaho. But political soothsayers agree that Iowa counts. In presidential politics, Iowa is destiny. A good showing at the start of the electoral cycle creates momentum — “the big Mo,” as George H.W. Bush once called it. Over the years, Iowa has breathed fresh energy into several limping candidacies, including George McGovern’s, Jimmy Carter’s and John Kerry’s.

“Celebrity,” said John Updike, “is a mask that eats into the face. As soon as one is aware of being ‘somebody,’ to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf.”

Updike makes celebrity sound horrible, but much of the world craves it, until they get it — and then, with mixed emotions, they cling to it. A great comedian, Fred Allen, once remarked that “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.”

But these individuals, while self-maimed by the lust for money and fame, are the mythic rulers of the Earth. They own everyone’s imagination. They can sell anything from perfume to T-shirts. Their status is special and they know it. They expect special treatment.

From Robert Fulford’s article, National Post.

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