This is going to look frivolous, I suppose. I've just been listening to some idiot on Newsnight talking about how Obama has just shown the American people he had the guts to make the difficult decision and so on. 'Gah!' is what I thought. It's not brave. It was right, probably, but it was hardly brave. It was easy. The 'brave' decision, right or wrong, would have been to say, 'You know, there he is, and everyone is saying I should assassinate him, and it will be a really popular move, obviously, but I think it's morally wrong.'
It made me think of a post I've been trying to work out how to write, and which I've probably written before, about sports coaches and managers almost never being criticised for being bold. Last weekend's NFL draft saw Atlanta trade loads of draft picks in order to get Julio Jones, a guy they really love and who their fans will be excited by. It's possible this turns out well, but the draft is a very inexact process and it's almost certainly not sensible to give away four or five decent shots at a star player in order to get one only slightly better shot at a star. Especially in a position which decent statisticians tend to say is overvalued. But pundit after pundit has weighed in saying that they love Atlanta's boldness, their willingness to bet the farm, and so on.
This might make no sense to non-NFL fans, of course. But think of other sports. Think how often cricket commentators moan about 'defensive captaincy' (all the bloody time) and how seldom they say, 'This is too attacking a field' (I have literally never heard a commentator say that a captain should have fewer slip fielders) even though it is simply not possible that the ONLY mistake captains ever make is to be too defensive.
And, most egregiously, think of football penalty shoot-outs. There is an absurd football rhetoric of manliness, of standing up to be counted. This means that self-consciously brave and manly players - usually unskilful defensive cloggers - can't resist being 'brave'. They stand up, they are counted, they miss, and the commentators praise them for it.
Sometimes, bravery is admitting that some other guy is the guy for the job, or making a decision you think is right even though you know some moron will call you timid. I am absolutely not saying that is what Obama did, but I am saying that morons saying he has demonstrated courage are morons.
The above is a bit incoherent. Sorry, but I've got a lot to do.