I don’t enjoy cricket much. I have no affection for the Australian cricket team and I rather dislike the centrality of cricket in the Australian imagination. It’s funny how these things work though; no matter my feelings for the game, I know that the three worst things the English ever did to us were to hang Ned Kelly, send us to die at Gallipoli, and USE BODYLINE BOWLING AGAINST DON BRADMAN IN THE 1932-33 TEST SERIES. (Also, the monarchy.) Which is why, to discuss the current state of negotiations about the debt ceiling in US Congress, I decided to talk about cricket:
In 1932 and 1933, the English cricket team toured Australia. The series of games between the nations would become famous for England’s bodyline bowling tactic, a strategy designed to neuter the great Australian cricketer Donald Bradman by targeting the batsman’s body rather than the wicket. (Americans: Think of a pitcher deliberately trying to hit a batter.) Bodyline was controversial enough to become the basis for a diplomatic incident between the UK and Australia, and the sentiments it stirred are aptly summed up by the words Australian captain Bill Woodfull spoke to the English tour manager Pelham Warner.
"There are two teams out there," said the Australian. "One is playing cricket. The other is making no attempt to do so."
In American politics right now, there are two parties. The Democrats are trying to govern the country. The Republicans are making no attempt to do so.
If you read this blog fairly consistently, you probably have a pretty good idea of where I’m coming from with my political views. I don’t try to hide them, but nor do I try to premium them. I usually find it more interesting to understand what is happening in America than to try to argue for my preferred policy outcomes; after all, that government is not mine. I agree with what Frank Rich wrote in his final column as a New York Times opinion writer: “I do have strong political views, but opinions are cheap. Anyone could be a critic of the Bush administration. The challenge as a writer was to try to figure out why it governed the way it did — and how it got away with it for so long — and, dare I say it, to have fun chronicling each new outrage.”
So I genuinely believe that criticizing the current Republican party is an act of analysis, not partisanship. The left, of course, does not have a problem complaining about the GOP, but thoughtful figures on the right have begun to do so as well over the past few years. Conor Friedersdorf and Ross Douthat have both voiced strong critiques of the American right. David Frum is particularly famous for his recent denunciations of the party. Andrew Sullivan and Fareed Zakaria have attacked the party’s conservatism. And now, David Brooks may be added to that list.