And do you know what makes a player a star in football? The ability to make "the big play" in "crunch time." That is, the ability to recapture lost momentum. The player who can force the ball into the end zone when all the opposing players know he's coming. The player who somehow comes down with an airborne ball in an endzone melee. The player who gathers his teammates in the huddle and leads them out of looming defeat to victory.
These are the rare individuals that teams, coaches, players, and fans want on their team. These are the players who inspire us with the results of applying years of hard work to improve a talent that God gave them.
Yesterday Barack Obama made a big play.
For weeks he has been mired in the muck of political mud thrown at him. Is he a Muslim? Will he end the war? Is he unpatriotic? Is he naive? Is he qualified to be Commander in Chief? Does he refuse to pledge allegience to the flag? Is his pastor an America hating, anti-white racist?
Barack had been bogged down trying to explain away or refute these so called issues. That, of course, is the plan of his opponents. When he is talking about being a Christian or answering the phone at 3:00 am, that means that he is not articulating his vision for America's future. His time is tied up chasing red herrings, instead of inspiring crowds of Americans hungry for hope and vision and a plan for a better future.
The press is complicit. In their laziness and gossip mongering, reporters and interviewers allow any random mud thrown to become the story. Rush Limbaugh has a very good point when he talks about "drive-by journalism." All many reporters feel the need to do is report that another news source is reporting something, and repeat the story without independently checking it for truth. This is what happened to John Kerry with the swift boat story. All the President's Men it is not.
But with yesterday's speech, Barack made the big play, shook off much of the muck of guilt by association being heaped upon him, and regained his own momentum and his own direction. That's the kind of player we want leading our team. He is back on track. He not only gave a great speach, but he showed that he is the real deal. No whines, no fake apologies. Just a deep understanding of the facts and an intelligible and true explanation of those facts with a perspective on how to deal with them.
He reminded me of an oft-quoted Kipling poem that I will repeat here.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!