In an article published in LeMonde.fr on Oct. 26, fashion mogul Paul Smith wrote: "I never could get very excited about Armstrong because he always seemed too calculating: too much in the image of these last fifteen years, characterized by the excesses of the financial sector, where greed and ego were all that mattered. Armstrong come from that universe" (1).
I think this is probably a fair assessment of Armstrong as a mirror for society (though we generally place far too much meaning on athletes). Martha Stewart was not enough. Society needed to find a better scapegoat in order to publicly purge itself of that win-at-all-costs era of greed, sponsorship, fraudulent morality, institutional complicity, and hero worship.
Americans may be more willing than Europeans to defend or forgive Armstrong because Americans are more tolerant of vitamins, supplements, and drugs; or because Americans are more accepting of changing one's body; or simply because Armstrong is one of us. But maybe Americans are more willing to forgive because we have been more complicit in the calculating era of corporate excess. Our retirement funds rose with Armstrong's fortunes. And they have collapsed as he fell.
Judging by the current state my 401K, I should begin sharpening my pitchfork.
(1) "Je n'ai jamais pu m'enthousiasmer à son propos, car il m'a toujours semblé trop calculateur. Trop à l'image de ces quinze dernières années ravagées par les dérives du secteur de la finance, où tout n'était que cupidité et ego. Armstrong appartenait à cet univers-là."