The Corner

Paul Potts

I’ve been getting emails like since yesterday , but this one may be the best:

Jonah – I came into work this morning, ran through my email, signed payroll, ran out to rake a couple of employees over the coals, went back to the office, pulled up NRO, and clicked on the Corner.  That’s when I ran across your post about Paul Potts.  The video came up and there’s this dumpy guy with bad teeth.  Then he started to sing.  Now, I’m not an overly emotional person, but halfway through I realized I was crying.  Haven’t done anything like that in many, many years, and I wondered, as I dried my eyes, how in the world his singing could have caused such a strong reaction in me.  The video has been on a loop in my head ever since, and I think I’m ready to make a guess. 

His expression before he begins to sing is that of a man resigned to disappointment.  Even when he smiles, his eyes convey a profound sadness.  He has been a nobody all his life.  He, and perhaps only he, knows he has greatness inside of him, but he is obviously a humble man, massively insecure, afraid of rejection, unsure of himself outside the cocoon of anonymity.  But you get the feeling he also knows that this may be the one chance he gets to escape the cocoon, and as he begins to sing, you can see him fighting down his fear.  I think that is the wellspring of the emotion that pervades his performance.  He is fighting against a life of obscurity.  By the song’s end, what was an average Joe has stepped up, beaten back his fear, and broken through.  In those few seconds, he put the void behind him, and his life will probably be changed forever because he called up the courage at that moment to show what he was really made of.  We saw greatness, long denied, finally being born. 

It was one of the most heroic things I’ve seen in a long time.  My deepest thanks to you for posting it.  Truly inspirational. –

Who knew a genocidal Cambodian dictator could have such a comeback? Oh, wait. Never mind.  

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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