, Jan 7, 1985 v125 p20(8)
Feeling proud again: Olympic organizer Peter Ueberroth
masterminds an extraordinary
spectacle, and shows what America's enterpreneurial spirit can do.
(Man of the Year) Lance Morrow
COPYRIGHT Time Inc. 1985
The flame came fluttering out of the darkness, into an early morning light. Americans in bathrobes would sometimes stand by
the sides of the two-lane roads, and as a runner carried the Olympic torch toward them, they would signal thumbs up and break the
country's silence with a soft, startling cheer. Their faces would glow with a complex light--a patriotism both palpable and chastened,
a kind of a reawakened warmth, something fetched from a long way back.
For Americans, the moment was powerfully emblematic. Why were they cheering? What were they cheering? When television
news played scenes of the torch's progress across the landscape, something in the soul of the audience cheered as well.
A kind of emotional reflex. Something both sentimental and profound welled up. What did people see in the scene?
They saw an American carrying a torch, running across America. But also, it may be, they saw an American running
our of a long Spenglerian gloom: Heading west for Clifornia, toward the light... Away from what had become an American inferiority
complex... Running away from the past, into the future...
The roadside scene was a little dramatization of the American theme of 1984: An extravagance of renewed national
self-confidence and pride. By a collusion of timing and chemistry and artful television technique and happy economics, the nation
fell into a spirit of coalescence and optimistic self-assertion not seen for a generation... But the new atmosphere was alive
with a great energy. The land was acrawl with entrepreneurs and Emersonian yuppies sounding the official cheer of 1984: "Go for it!"
The belief was reborn that Americans can do--well, anything.
...it also showed great shine. America made a pageant of itself, erupting in a procession of spectacles
of sudden self-celebration... It was perfectly fitting that the roadside scene was turned into a television commercial--calling up
patriotic spirits in the process of selling some beer. The new American mood was, if anything, eminently commercial. Whether one described
it as enlightened self-interest or shrewd crassness, the Old American talent for making a buck was alive and well. And after a hard passage
throught the deepest recession since the 30's, Americans were not cavalier about the gift.