Jason Collins was never a great basketball player. It's pathetic — a literal joke — that must we look at basketball to find men to look up to. (They are tall.) But this week, we're expected to admire this athlete we hadn't heard of before not for any athletic achievement but for the miniature feat of revealing — after years and years of hiding — that he's gay. Did he risk anything? His revelation comes at the end of his lackluster career, he's receiving plaudits from everyone on up to Barack Obama, and since his college days, he's had powerful political friends including Chelsea Clinton and (his erstwhile roommate) Joe Kennedy.
Is Barack Obama a great man? He's reached the top position. That takes some doing. He scrambled up over a number of people — were they great? — and he maintained his position, but is he great? We — some of us — like him. He seems like a good person — to some people, the ones who feel comfortable enough with him because at least he's not Bush, he's got a nice smile that reminds us of hope and Republicans seem mean, and it's not really his fault that there are so many problems.
And how about those Clintons and Kennedys and — as long as we're listing American dynasties — Bushes? There are no giants here. Why are the figures on our national stage so lacking in greatness?
It must be us. This must be our doing. Our preference.
IN THE COMMENTS: Jonas quotes George Carlin:
"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'"Henry and Balfegor both mention Steve Jobs as the last great man. When I wrote "Kurtz isn't a bold or great writer," I immediately thought Christopher Hitchens.