I never thought I would be drawing Jeremy Lin. I’d heard his name bandied about, but since I don’t follow sports, I had to ask my editor who he was.
When the Sun Sentinel news desk found out that⎯by coincidence⎯an incumbent president, a former one, and more important, the sports flavor of the month would all be in Miami on the same day, it was decided that we would do a full court press (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to commemorate the serendipitous event.
My editor, Tony Fins, and I batted the subject around. He opined that Obama and Lin had something in common. They had both come out of nowhere and become instant media darlings.
It occurred to me that Clinton, too, fit into this category. He grew up poor in Arkansas, did well in school, ended up at an Ivy League college, and the rest is history. Lin is the son of Chinese immigrants, also got into an Ivy League school, and was not even mentioned the last time the Knicks played the Heat in Miami. Now, thanks to his recent accomplishments, everybody in the country (except, obviously, me) knows who he is. Barack Obama, the self-described “skinny kid with a funny name,” gained admission to Harvard, gave a memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and became America’s first African-American president an incredible four years later.
When political candidates throw out the usual boilerplate about America being the “greatest nation on Earth,” maybe we should reflect more deeply upon those words. We aren’t great because of the swagger that comes with military might. We aren’t even great because of our political system (certainly, not these days).
What makes us great is that ineffable quality that is embodied by these three men who happened to be in the same city on the same day. Each is a giant in his own field, and each attained success due to his own talent and ability in a nation that still rewards merit.
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