Was this the greatest Super Bowl in history? I vote yes, and I have seen ’em all, although I was a mere stripling of eight for the first one. It was certainly a deeply fulfilling Super Sunday for any devotee of football, with New Yorkers especially dancing on the balls of their feet. Now both Manning brothers have managed the task of unmanning Tom Brady, no easy feat.
Not only did the Giants defeat the Patriots to prevent an undefeated season, they did it with an exciting comeback in the last two and a half minutes of the game. A guy named Jacobs ran for a do-or-die yard to convert a fourth-down play, a receiver named Tyree made an insanely spectacular catch over his head, holding on despite two bone-crunching tackles, and finally a famous guy did his part. Plexico Burress, whose stardom had been dimmed throughout the game by smothering coverage, caught the touchdown pass with a half-minute to go. Tom Brady uncorked a few long blasts in an effort to save the game, but he was plumb out of magic.
So Super Sunday is in the books, and Super Tuesday is in the cards. Hillary Clinton’s team beat Mitt Romney’s team on Sunday: Is that a portent of some sort?
Since you asked, I’ll tell you my opinion. I think that this victory by the Giants brought a quality that has been sorely lacking lately in our culture and utterly lacking in our politics. Namely, joy. Pure unadulterated joy and jubilation. We could really use some of that.
And I hate to tell you this, but there is only one way to bring joy to Democrats and Republicans alike on Super Tuesday. There is only one possible result that will literally put a sparkle into the eye of the vast majority of Americans, party affiliation not a factor. That will be if Obama wins big.
Say what you want, be as churlish and curmudgeonly and cantankerous as you wish, it will be a great moment for this country if a black or Hispanic, a thoughtful one, agree with him or not, becomes the nominee of a major party. The truth is it would be nice if a woman made it, too, but not one of these phoney-baloney spouses running to take over the husband’s job. The new Prime Minister of Argentina, Mrs. Kirschner, got a big yawn when she won, because although she was a senator in her own right, she was seen as another Mrs. Peron extending her husband’s reign.
You remember when Alabama made a term-limit law on the governorship, so George Wallace just had his wife run to fill the seat when his time expired. How exhilarating for women can that possibly be? Even if Hillary was a nice person, which she is not, and we could relate to her success, which we can not, and she had real achievements, which she does not, the idea of her accession to the candidacy looks too much like another Bill Clinton end-run around the Constitution.
If Barack Obama beats the odds on Super Tuesday and comes through with a comeback, there will be a spirit of joy in the land. I am not talking about the joy of the Clinton-despisers, among whom I proudly number, because that is still a negative feeling of the sort King Solomon deprecated: “When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he trips, your heart should not be celebrating.” Real joy, I mean, the positive kind, to know deep in our hearts that we are truly a country where merit trumps all the external accidents of birth.
Although the Super Bowl was won by a team called the Giants beating one called the Patriots, if Obama wins there will be a sense of victory for the patriots over the giants. The idea that a guy could come out of nowhere, with interracial parents who were in and out of his life, with some odd blend of Kenya and Kansas and Hawaii and Indonesia, to be taken seriously as a potential President of the United States, that is a victory for every one of us, a profound occasion for true joy.
Then, of course, we have to work hard to beat him in the general election. Merit earns you a shot, but victory should still belong to the right set of ideas. To make the red zone, Obama just needs to get past Hillary, but to make the end zone, he has to get past you and me.