Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Nadal on Obama

A reader emails:

Hi Craig,

Thought you would enjoy the World #1's views of our 44th President

This is an exert from an interview that Rafa did in spanish. It was posted on VamosBrigade's News board in the Misc. Articles thread, and translated by forum member Rosario.

Q. Have you followed the election of Obama as the president of the USA?

A. The only thing I can say is that he seems to be the president of the world, that it will probably be an important change. Among all the disasters that surround us, all the wars, the violence and the misfortunes in the world, he seems to be a great hope. The world needed him. A hope, a new image that apparently can solve everything. He probably won’t be able to do it because it is impossible to solve all the evil already done.

Q. In sport, it helps to think that things can be changed.

A. Sure. Surely things will get better. I trust, but this man has a lot of pressure: all the expectations created around him... That’s partly good, but partly it isn’t. No matter how well he does it, it will never seem to be enough. He will have a complicated life, but ... he is welcome. If he really wants to change things like wars, to avoid misfortunes like what is happening now in Irak and Gaza, it will be good for everybody.

Please visit the entire interview on

I read your blog often, and I know you have been an active participant in the election of President Obama ( I never get tired of saying that, President Obama)

Enjoy the tennis.


Pheasant Plucker said...

It's amazing how much more Nadals intelligence come out when he's speaking a language that he is comfortable with. A very thoughtful and realistic viewpoint, and one echoed by many worldwide.

Savannah said...

Thanks for sharing that with us.

lynney62 said...

Rafa sounds "older than his years". To think that with his rigorous life-schedule, he still has time and interest to follow world affairs. I would only hope all the 22 year old American kids will follow his shining example!

dapxin said...

why do I think Michelle looks like a tea-girl there ? :)

maybe she's too hot....

MMT said...

I'm sorry, but I resent this comment. Spain is hardly without blemishes in their own politics, and I find it unbelievably hypocritical of him to be so critical of our former president, or have the temerity to task our current president with solving all the world's ills.

I don't mind athlete's talking politics, but he should be more even-handed as it relates to Spain's political problems, and their contribution to the world's ills and the lack of contributions to solutions thereto.

ceruleanxstar said...

@ MMT - The subject of the interview wasn't about Spanish politics and while obviously Spanish politics aren't perfect either, it's irrelevant in the context of the interview. Spain is not the world superpower. It is not the hegemon of the world, as the U.S. is and wants to continue being. Obama was elected the American President, but in many senses he is also taking over leadership of the world, whether you like or dislike this fact. That said, when talking about international relations, it is fairly impossible to be evenhanded in comparing the relative merits of two countries' impacts on world ills and contributions, simply because countries don't start on an even playing ground.

To suggest that no one should criticize the U.S. or former U.S. presidents based on their own nationality / national politics is rather extreme - you're basically making the "well, if you can't do it better, shut up" argument. However, in refusing to listen to differing opinions or discuss alternative viewpoints (along the lines of "perhaps Saddam Hussein may not have WMD"), leaders will never find out what is needed for improvement.

Part of Obama's platform was that he presented himself as someone to solve all the world's ills, so it's not so much Rafa having the "temerity to task" Obama, but the fact that he's realistically pointing out the problems of getting too excited by political rhetoric.

What Nadal said was basically what I've been hearing and discussing with my political science and public policy professors for the last year, as Obama rose to power. (In fact, it's quite popular to get a "what should Obama do in X case" question on midterms right now.) I think you took the comment the wrong way - it wasn't meant as criticism of Obama, but a rational assessment of the gap between rhetoric and reality. It's important to give people hope, but hope alone isn't going to change the world.

Some criticism is always healthy, and just because it's coming from someone in a country whose own politics aren't perfect, doesn't mean that it's necessarily hypocritical or useless commentary. Following your reasoning, what would you say to an American who said the same things Rafa did? Is it okay for me to be critical of our former president because I'm an U.S. citizen?

IMHO, you can live under the most oppressive dictatorship in the world, or in a nation where the government is in shambles, and still have grounds to criticize President Bush.

ceruleanxstar said...

@ Pheasant Plucker - I'm glad that people are appreciative of the language difficulties that some have to overcome. People instinctively judge others' intelligence based simply on their fluency of one's own chosen language.

I've really resented how the media always portrays Federer as this amazing multi-lingual (and therefore, somehow magically more intelligent) athlete. Obviously, it's admirable to be multi-lingual, but seriously, Rafa is always cast as the muscled athlete with no brain, and I think a lot of that is a result of the way reporters perceive him based solely on language.

MMT said...

ceruleanxstar: This is a tennis column, so I don't want to delve too deeply into politics, but the question was about his impression of Obama, and somehow he went off on a tangent about Iraq and Gaza. Which I think was not on.

The second question was about athletes believing that things can change, and he continues his discussion and delves into a thinly veiled criticism of Bush and an expectation that the US will solve the problems in Gaza.

This is where I feel his commentary became one-sided. Spain is in the midst of one of the most vitriolic campaigns against immigrants and blacks in the history of modern Europe, and before he points the finger at Obama and claims they should solve a problem of how refugees are treated in another country, he may do well, as a leading Spanish figure, to discuss how Spain can solve their own domestic problems concerning refugees, immigrants and particularly their treatment of blacks.

How much more poignant his comments would be if he expressed any level of disapproval of the continued racist targeting of black footballers, for example, by the supporter of Real Madrid, a team he openly supports. Or perhaps a word of condemnation for former national team coaches in Spain spewing racist rhetoric towards black footballers. In this area, his gravitas would be much more useful, than a one-sided critique of one president, and setting an expectation of another that is altogether out of his purview.

Craig Hickman said...

Tennis. Politics. Same difference. (wink)