Max Cleland

I keep meaning to link this Max Cleland interview from Fresh Air. It's rather incredible. I think you just sort of assume, when you see people in privileged positions, you assume that their life is gravy. Obviously, being a triple-amputee is different, but I never realized how much Cleland lost when he was defeated by Saxby Chambliss. I also didn't realize how he'd basically willed himself into politics.

I think about this a lot with my Dad, who's also a Vietnam vet, but not a triple amputee. I can account for whatever success I've had by pointing to family, community, good friends, good people etc. But sometimes you see people who may not have always had those things, and their drive just shines through.

Perhaps conservatives are right and it does not take a village to raise a child, but it certainly took a village to raise me. In that context, I always marvel at someone like Cleland. He had good parents, and people like President Carter and Obama looked out for him. But so much of his success and push seems internal. Some people, I think, are just born running.

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In