The race goes to the comforting - R.H. Joseph

Could someone please explain why the United States Post Office plopped $10 million into Lance Armstrong's bank account so he could have a good shot at winning the Tour de France.

Am I wrong or is the Post Office always cash strapped, continually raising its rates just to stay in business? And am I wrong or is the situation getting worse due to email?

Besides, if there's no alternative to the Post Office for sending regular letters why do they need to advertise? How can they justify subsidizing Armstrong's effort to the tune of $10 million?

Please don't suggest supporting his assault on a record breaking sixth win is for national pride. Every European knows America has simply outspent all the other competitors in an attempt to buy the win.

Besides, isn't it enough to be the most formidable nation on the planet, so powerful we can muscle or invade any country we choose without fear of reprisal by any other sovereign nation?

Why on earth is the U.S. Post Office using my money to buy Lance Armstrong's victory?

I don't care if he had cancer; I had cancer. Everybody had or has cancer.

I want postal rates to go down. I want my money back!

I just spent two weeks watching the Olympic qualifying and it didn't cost me anything. Like Armstrong, these world class athletes have an opportunity to earn laurels for America but as far as I know I'm not being charged for it.

And speaking of the Olympic qualifying, track to be specific, isn't it interesting that no one is raising the issue of racism with regard to the sprint events?

Nearly every race is contested solely between black athletes yet no one complains. Why? Because like every Olympic event, qualification is determined by ability alone. The best make the final and among them, the best wins.

Seems obvious, doesn't it?

Now consider American politics. Recall that ours is the most powerful nation on the planet, capable of imposing its will upon virtually any country without fear of significant consequence.

It stands to reason, therefore, that if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, concomitant with our unparalleled might comes a responsibility to entrust leadership to an individual of uncommon achievement.

Logically our search for a president should employ a vetting system similar to that of the Olympic selection committee. Who but a true commander, a person of character, intellect and education deserves to be entrusted with such responsibility?

If you believe this you must ask why the Republican Party successfully employs the word "intellectual" to disparage a political opponent. The reason Republicans engage George W. Bush as their figurehead is that he embodies the anti-intellectualism of their constituency.

Diametrically opposed to the criterion employed to choose Olympic competitors, this method of selecting a political leader is akin to having the sprinters' coaches nominating their most affable runner to compete in the sports arena rather than their fastest.

Yet in the political arena America's metaphorical judges, the body politic, are more concerned with how similar the runner is to themselves than how capable of embracing the challenge ahead. In this scenario the race goes not to the swiftest but to who best embodies the characteristics of mediocrity.

Such a commitment to ordinariness repudiates the logic employed by the Olympic selection committee.

What once was a great nation created by men of vision is now endanger of being subverted by a political party whose spokesman, George W. Bush, doesn't get "that whole vision thing." Neither America nor the world can afford for us to continue to empower the ordinary.

Recent history demonstrates we cannot continue to entrust America to an individual whose alleged merits lie in areas most appealing to anti-intellectuals, those who spurn the lessons of knowledge and experience, choosing instead reliance upon metaphysical intervention.

I would like Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France because he is a great athlete. I would like America's Olympic athletes to succeed because of their commitment to excellence. And I would like America's voters to reflect a similar commitment to excellence through an act of unselfish vision.

Though they take refuge in the commonplace they must acknowledge that greatness exists beyond their frame of reference. It may be intimidating but greatness is born of greatness, not mediocrity, and America needs to be great.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.