Powered by nothing more than wokeness and self-regard Megan Rapinoe threatens to go on an intergalactic ego trip – but we are forced to earnestly listen to every pronouncement of this “shero.”
One could forgive a soccer player for losing their head after leading their team to a World Cup, but Rapinoe had evidently decided to turn the past month into her personal political pulpit from which to issue her reference-free assertions before a ball had been kicked in France.
From the intellectually dishonest and self-serving demands for “equal” pay, to the claim that “you can’t win without gays” (“that’s science, right there” she assured, vaguely) to boasts that she wouldn’t “f**king go to the White House” if invited after winning.
Now that she has backed up her talk, being named the best player at the tournament, Rapinoe has taken it up a notch, telling Rachel Maddow who she will and won’t deign to talk to in Washington (those prepared to have “a real substantive conversation, and that believes in the same things that we believe in” which is Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez). On Wednesday, she used the victory parade speech in New York to tell Donald Trump what he “needs” to do.
Where does she get off?
I don’t mind Rapinoe’s purple hair, sexuality, prolific public dancing, swearing in front of children, exuberant goal celebrations against minnows, or posing with champagne while shouting “I deserve this!” Even pushing away the American flag during a victory routine, or kneeling during the national anthem are personal choices. She has her right to an opinion and to her persona.
Yet Rapinoe is beginning to sound not only like a mirror Trump or Diego Maradona at his coke messiah peak … she seems a couple of interviews away from going full-on Charlie Sheen talking about “WINNING!” and “tiger blood.”
All while the media hails her as a “national treasure” and dismisses her critics as sexists who cannot handle self-proclaimed “badass” women. The brasher you are, the more like an alpha male caricature, the more empowered, apparently.
Perhaps she really is “iconic” if your political and personal views align perfectly with Rapinoe’s. Surely, though even her allies must cringe occasionally at her antics, and pretending she is some unifying figure of diversity, rather than a polarizing loudmouth, particularly grates.
Without wanting to sound pompous – is it appropriate for someone who uses their cachet as leader of the national team for publicity to alienate half the nation’s voters while standing in front of the Stars and Stripes? Would her assurances that none of her teammates would go to meet the president be considered overbearing if it was Hillary Clinton she did not want to meet? Why does she always deliver her opinions with such finality, despite having no real qualifications beyond being a football player?
Where is the line between cocky right-on activist and obnoxious bully?
Somehow, one suspects that self-obsessed militancy plays less well with the majority of the public outside the media bubble, if only for reasons of basic manners. Or put it this way, if she really did run against the incumbent in 2020, as a hypothetical poll asked last week, would it be the Democrats or the Republicans who would be celebrating? In fact, as long as she remains in the headlines Trump will already treat her like someone running against him, knowing that every time her face appears, his base is more likely to turn out and vote.
By Igor Ogorodnev
Igor Ogorodnev is a Russian-British journalist, who has worked at RT since 2007 as a correspondent, editor and writer.