Friday, June 1, 2007

No New Friends

There's a great article in the NY Times about Obama, the pickup basketball player. No surprises for anyone whose spent any time on the court: Unable to dominate with his size, he relies on competitive drive and know-how to do what it takes to win.

What jumped out at me, though, was this passage buried on page 2:

But the easy friendships Mr. Obama once struck up on the court are a thing of the past. Lately, the rule in the family is “No more new friends,” Mr. Robinson said. “You don’t know what people’s real agendas are.”

What a lonely image.

I've spent some time around people who would be considered minor celebrities, and a few who might be considered major stars. (ie. "I know your friend. What's his name?" True story.) And it's commonplace that they become very careful about who they open up to. Generally this means frequenting either people they knew before they were famous, or else other people who are also famous.

There's always a downside to this phenomenon, what I think of as the Michael Jackson Neverland effect. Celebrities who withdraw behind a wall of familiar faces risk losing touch with what made them famous in the first place.

The same goes for politicians, who tend to stick with the people who got them to the big show. And if they have to change in mid-stream, they turn to old hats, since they can't afford to make any "new friends". Which might explain why folks like Bob Shrum continue to get work directing campaigns, even though they've never actually won any.

Posted by Judah in:  Politics   

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