against Obama

by Henry Farrell on January 9, 2009

One of the safer predictions I’ve made in recent years is “this”: (in _The American Prospect_):

[O]nline activists are unlikely to follow Obama if he moves toward a post-ideological politics of citizenship and may even use Obama’s own machine to organize against him (as they did within when Obama announced his support for controversial wiretapping legislation). By rebuilding the Democratic Party around a model that is friendlier to decentralized online participation, Obama is … making it easier for Democratic activists to organize in protest against overly “moderate” decisions

But I didn’t expect it to start happening _quite_ so soon.
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Pietersen’s out.

by Harry on January 9, 2009

I’m not going to pretend that I understand the details behind the crisis in English cricket. But it has prompted a South African friend of mine to email asking me what I knew/thought about Pietersen, and that in turn has prompted a bit of a mea culpa. I have found it impossible to enjoy Pietersen as a player since he qualified for England because, at some point around the time he qualified I heard him say something incredibly stupid and unpleasant about the racial quota system in South African cricket — something to the effect that he, himself, couldn’t thrive in a system which gave systematic preference to non-whites. Wikipedia bears out that he did indeed make such comments, and suggests that he believed he was dropped from the Natal team for quota reasons.

Why a mea culpa? Because I’m sure that numerous sport stars, some of whom I am sure I enjoy and perhaps even revere, have obnoxious political opinions, and wrongheaded views of the source of their own superior capabilities. Big money sport, and the attention lavished on the very successful, encourage vanity, and make it hard to see the role of luck in differentiating between one’s own, and others’ level of success. KP was just in a position in which it is natural for him to air these views because, unlike most sportsmen, he had to explain why he was changing his nationality.

There are brilliant exceptions both to the politics (Mike Brearley, David Sheppard, bizarrely enough Brian Clough) and to the vanity (the extraordinary Flintoff, as it often appeared most of the Australians under Waugh), and I’m not suggesting that all or even most stars are anything like the one of the great white hopes of English tennis (I had a schoolfriend who hated tennis, but used to watch Wimbledon just for the joy of watching a fascist lose), but KP is, I imagine, rather unexceptional. So my initial hint of pleasure in his downfall gave way to a sense of guilt that I had singled him out for dislike.

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