It's one of those statements that jolts you, revealing yet another decline of the once-noble American culture into the marshes of insipidity.
For in the mind of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (and probably many other celebrity worshipers), Oprah Winfrey, a New Age egotist who talks about mostly inane, irrelevant topics on a TV program, soars above all mothers, scientists, political leaders, doctors, educators, policewomen, missionaries, First Ladies, soldiers, philanthropists, writers, social activists, adventurers, athletes, nurses, artists and caregivers.
"I think she was the most successful woman that we will ever know in the history of this country."
Not Pocahontas, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Molly Pitcher.
Not Dolley Madison, Sacajawea, Sojourner Truth, or Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Not Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Florence Nightingale.
Not Harriet Tubman, Jane Addams, Clara Barton, or Emily Dickinson.
Not Louisa May Alcott, Annie Oakley, Nellie Bly, or Beatrix Potter.
Not Marie Curie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Juliette Gordon Low.
Not Ida B. Wells, Mary Cassatt, Grandma Moses, or Willa Cather.
Not Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Clara Maass, or Claire Boothe Luce.
Not Mary K. Goddard, Mother Bernardina Matthews, or Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Not Victoria Woodhull, Maria Montessori, or Elanor Roosevelt.
Not Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Georgia O'Keefe, or Mother Jones.
Not Amelia Earhart, Edith Wharton, Edna St. Vincent Millay or Dorothea Dix.
Not Margaret Chase Smith, "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, or Lucille Ball.
Not Ella Fitzgerald, Clara Bow, Shirley Temple, or Bess Truman.
Not Jackie Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, or Margaret Mead.
Not Marian Anderson, Dorothy Day, Wilma Rudolph, or Zora Neale Hurston.
Not Margaret Bourke-White, Marian Anderson, or Joni Eareckson-Tada.
But Oprah Winfrey.
Daley's choice shows a remarkable lack of moral perspective and a woeful ignorance of (if not sheer disdain for) American history. But then it's not just about history. For Daley has concluded that Oprah Winfrey is not only the most successful woman we've ever had, she's the most successful we will ever have! Done deal. Close the books. Raise the statue.
And then close the curtain.