Bad apples vs. good eggs: the power of oneThe column posits an eternal struggle between the few bad apples, "the one person who..." and the greater community ("the good eggs") that has to fix the damage that bad apple caused.
She starts with an anecdote about jury duty and how the day was upended "all because one idiot phoned in a false threat."
Here's the core of her piece - it follows immediately:
It only takes one. One person, one moment, one stupid decision. It only takes one to mess things up for dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of other people.She reiterates the point later on:
A relative handful of no-goodniks regularly screw up life for everyone else, and an unwritten law of the universe seems to be that the efforts of many are required to counteract each lone destructive act.NOW look at her examples of "one person" whose actions messed things up for lots others:
We are near the end of a decade shattered by the violence that can be wrought, in modern times, by just one man willing to blow himself up for a cause.One man - a suicide bomber. Obviously bad. She says a paragraph or so down the page:
We were there [in jury duty] because, in each criminal case, one person was charged with hurting another, acting in violation of laws written to protect all of us.Another singular person - an accused criminal. Society has to correct itself for the misbehavior of that one person violating the rest of us.
Ruth Ann talks to a woman while waiting for jury duty:
But where she lives, decades of successful revitalization are beginning to crumble under the onslaught of drunken revelers.The point is clear. There's that one person (or small group of people) who screws things up for the rest of us and then there's us.
Thousands live in her community and many thousands more pass through every day, bringing the benefits of commerce. But listening to a street brawl each weekend or stepping out the front door into someone's vomit once a month has longtime residents beginning to flee to quieter corners of the city.
So what should we make of this paragraph dropped in the middle of the compositional fabric of her column?
We were summoned to serve just six days after a historical election, a midcourse correction for an administration swept into power because of the charismatic promise of one man.Guess Who? It's Obama!
Ruth Ann places The President of The United States among the lone terrorists, lone criminals, the lone vomiters on innocent people's doorsteps, to show how such no-goodniks need to be corrected by "We the people."
She even brings another president in to make her point:
Just as George Washington refused to be made king, our founders were wary enough of human inclinations that they designed a system of government to check the power of any individual.And you thought the column was about jury duty and the value of civic involvement when it in fact it's all about how bad Obama is. And how good "we" were to stop him.
Washington probably wouldn't look too fondly on Washington, D.C.'s unvetted czars. He and his peers probably would've been pretty skeptical that any one person could stop the rise of the oceans or cause the planet to heal, either, but here's a notion they'd endorse: We are the ones we've been waiting for. We the people.
Subtle, Ruth Ann. Very subtle.
UPDATE: I forgot to link to Dailey's column. It's been corrected.