Ann Coulter has, once again, done what she does best: poke a stick in the cages of the liberal menagerie to rile up the beasts. This time she has done it with an all-out assault on soccer.
Right in the middle of a World Cup in which the American team has done well enough to attract the attention of people who aren't sure of the difference between futbol and football, Ms. Coulter has gone and pooped on the pitch by writing, "Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay."
This is classic Ann Coulter hyperbole and not to be taken too seriously. If her right-wing sister-in-arms, Michelle Malkin, wrote something like that, you'd know she actually meant it. Malkin is the grimly earnest student in the front of the class who has read too much Ayn Rand and wants to prove how much smarter she is than the Howard Zinn-quoting professor up at the lectern. Ms. Coulter, on the other hand, is the blonde in the back row sneaking shots of Fireball with the frat boys and making sarcastic remarks about the professor's frizzy hair and scuffed Birkenstocks. So, it's hard to know to what degree Ms. Coulter truly believes any of the outrageous stuff she says.
Her comparisons between wimpy soccer and manly, American sports are drawn mostly from the suburban kindergarten variety of the sport. ("After a football game," she writes, "ambulances carry off the wounded. After a soccer game, every player gets a ribbon and a juice box.") Does she care that she is being fallacious? Heck, no; exaggeration is her game. She lives to stir things up, get more hits on her blog and sell more books.
To fill space in her column until she gets to her core attack, Ms. Coulter trots out the standard complaints against soccer -- it's boring, it goes on too long, there isn't enough scoring, it can end in a tie. That stuff is easy to rebuff. Sure, the frequent lack of a final result is annoying, but, if it's low scores and tedium you are looking for, sit through an average major league baseball game. And going on too long? Actually, one of the good things about a soccer game is that it never lasts more than about 95 minutes. A baseball game has no time limit at all. Sixty-minute-long pro football games are stretched to three hours by television ads, penalties, penalty challenges, time outs and that NFL curiosity, the two-minute warning.
Except to die-hard fans, any sport can be tedious. I doubt Ms. Coulter really cares about the boredom factor or much else in the nature of soccer. What she actually hates is that soccer is played beyond the borders of the United States. Unlike the so-called "world championships" of baseball, basketball and football, the World Cup is a genuine world competition and Americans have yet to figure out how to win. This is what makes it a sport loved only by left-wingers and immigrants, according to Ms. Coulter.
She complains that soccer is like the metric system -- something that Francophile liberals want to force on the rest of America just because it is European. The only way soccer can be gaining popularity in this country, she insists, is because immigrants swarming across the border haven't had the benefit of watching games where it isn't against the rules to use your hands.
"No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer," Ms. Coulter declares with comic certainty. To discover how wrong she is about that, she might want to visit Seattle where the professional soccer team, the Sounders, attracts crowds nearly as loud and large as those that show up for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Far from being a bunch of immigrants, most of those Sounders fans are as white and middle class as the delegates at a Republican convention.
But, of course, we are talking Seattle, a city as conspicuously and preciously liberal as San Francisco. Ms. Coulter would claim that as clear proof she is right -- not that accuracy actually matters to someone who has built a very lucrative brand as an agent provocateur.
And see? There I go using French! How predictably liberal of me. It's no wonder I like soccer.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go tolatimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.