WORLD CUP MORAL CLARITY. Zach Roth, echoing several commenters, defends the President's weak statement on the American World Cup squad by arguing that Bush's assessment is essentially accurate. That's besides the point. He's the President of the United States and he's supposed to support the team. Before any big sporting event, the relevant local politicians always pick their team to win. They don't play the odds. They don't offer neutral assessments of the situation. They support the team. If Bush wasn't comfortable picking America to go all the way, he still should have found something positive to say: "As you know, American soccer has improved a lot in recent years and our team's gotten a very strong assessment from FIFA, so I'm optimistic."

Instead we got "I know they'll try their hardest" like we were talking about a bunch of eight-year-olds. Liberals can't yield on this point. American performance in international team sports competitions has been deplorable during the Bush years from the 2002 FIBA fiasco to the World Baseball Classic debacle earlier this year to the disappointing performances in both men's and women's hockey at the Olympics. This is a moment of crisis, and Bush's condescending attitude toward the World Cub team is part of the problem.

--Matthew Yglesias

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