Jewish World Review August 29, 2011 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5771
America still shows the power of the individual
By Ann McFeatters
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | All hail the individual!
As we deal with an earthquake, a hurricane, the two longest wars we have ever fought, Wall Street nuttiness and joblessness, to say nothing of a looming presidential election with all the zaniness that entails, it seems as though institutions we once cherished or at least respected are falling apart.
But at the same time, once again, we have to respect the awesome influence one person often wields.
Steve Jobs created the most valuable company in the United States, spawning the personal computer industry, the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad. Just recently Apple had more cash on hand than the U.S. government. Apple once stupidly ousted him and almost plunged into bankruptcy. He returned and brought the company to even greater glory, finding and nourishing loyal talent.
Sadly, at age 55, Jobs has resigned as head of Apple after a long battle with pancreatic cancer although he will remain chairman of the board. His example and legacy are amazing and historic.
Pat Summit, the 59-year-old coach of the Lady Vols at the University of Tennessee, is a legend, having become one of the most winning coaches in sports history. Now she has inspired us again, candidly revealing her new battle against a form of Alzheimer's.
Long after Adolf never-again Hitler, there are still really bad people waging huge power over millions of people. Witness Moammar Gadhafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who have ruthlessly killed their own people and held their own countries in backwardness and tyranny.
Now that Osama bin Laden is dead and Bernard Madoff is in jail, the most hated person in the United States in recent weeks has been Casey Anthony, a 20-something found not guilty of killing her child. How many hours has America spent pondering this misfit?
When it comes to politics, we are so fickle. We swooned over Barack Obama until we found out he is human, challenged with some of the most daunting problems the nation has ever confronted.
So now some of us are enthralled with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has surpassed Mitt Romney as the leading contender of the GOP presidential pack. Perry, who professes not to believe in evolution, climate change or Social Security, is the new political flavor of the month. What happened to Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin?
People desperate for viable candidates are drawn to Perry because he drops the g's when he speaks, has remarkable hair and a folksy style of slapping people on the back and lives in a state that has job-creating energy assets. Who knows what we'll think 14 months from now.
Somebody named Kim Kardashian recently got married, and the wedding was treated by the media as the U.S. equivalent of the nuptials of a British heir to the throne. Move over, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
One of the tenets of our America has always been the power of the ordinary, unsung individual, most famously articulated in the right to vote. We glory in the triumph of the individual over great odds, over tyrants, over "the system," over city hall.
So we have to take the bad with the good. That includes former Vice President Dick Cheney's valiant attempt in his new memoir to validate his continuing belief in torture, his trashing of former colleagues and his insistence that the war in Iraq was justified although no weapons of mass destruction were found and thousands are dead as a result. Cheney, with his arrogance and disdain for heroes such as Colin Powell, is gone from power. His book will be judged by history.
And that is the other lesson we can't forget: The most powerful people come and the most powerful people go, the best among us, the worst among us.
Even on dark days, we are grateful we will always have men and women of the caliber of Steve Jobs and Pat Summit.
(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Email amcfeatters(at)nationalpress.com.)
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