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Take heart, Quin.
Some Americans have always been losers, and it is true that by frontier standards we’ve gone soft. That’s a mark of success. As Ted “broad brush” Turner once said, with more insight than he knew, “Christianity is a religion for losers.”
But men like Jason Thomas and Dave Karnes still exist. You may remember them as the ex-Marines (okay, maybe there’s no such thing) who found Port Authority officers in the rubble of the World Trade Center. They’re flawed, of course, but not soft. Ditto Chuck Sereika, the down-on-his luck former paramedic with no training in collapsed building rescue who was the first man to reach Port Authority officer Will Jimeno. Ditto Jimeno himself, and his sergeant, McLaughlin.
But you started with sports. Whether Floyd Landis was doped or not, his eighty mile solo attack on one hip in the Tour de France was an epic example of mental toughness. Lance Armstrong won the thing seven consecutive times before that. Moreover, this year’s World Basketball Championship is shaping up better than previous iterations have been, because a mentally tough coach has impressed the value of teamwork on the NBA players with whom he works.
That tennis and golf aren’t as heavy with American names as they used to be is no cause for concern. Given the torrid pace he’s set, Tiger Woods will hold off the rest of the world by himself until a few more of his countrymen discover the attitude he already has. And have you noticed that tennis stars now tend to be Eastern European, and on the women’s side, bombshells to boot (Maria Sharapova, call your office)? Nothing wrong with that at all. You may miss the Cold War days when Americans may have been tougher, but sports fans joked ruefully about the linebacker shoulders on East German women in the Olympics. I don’t miss those days. I much prefer watching the likes of Summer Sanders slice through a pool, lithe but lethal. You know anybody in women’s tennis who actually wants to meet Venus Williams in a semifinal match? And let’s not forget that Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, both exceedingly easy on the eyes, stomped the competition in beach volleyball this past Summer Olympics.p>Feeling down? Go read or re-read the Sackett family westerns by Louis L’Amour. Go to a little podunk gym like the one in my town where even women on the “CrossFit” regimen can do handstand pushups. Or go watch the independent movie, “Little Miss Sunshine,” in theaters now. That goofball family is quintessentially American — and a lot tougher than it looks. br> — Patrick O’Hannigan br> San Diego, California /p>
Quin Hillyer replies: Mr. McNeill is absolutely right about the young people in our Armed Services. They deserve our deepest admiration. I only hope their hardiness and patriotism proves to be the rule here rather than the exception. Either way, our debt to them is incalculable. As a matter of fact, I already have a column in the works on this topic.
As for Mr. O’Hannigan’s letter, I find it inspirational. Of course I believe that many Americans remain not just strong-willed but heroic. He provides some excellent examples thereof. I particularly liked, by the way, his description of Summer Sanders as “lithe, but lethal.” What a great goal for us to aspire to!
Mr. Hillyer asks some interesting questions and makes some interesting points, even if they are golf related. The central question of the piece is not, as might be assumed, are we losers; but rather what will make us strive to win?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?