Baseball, Hot Dogs and Power Politics

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Power Politics

First, House Republicans introduced a bill to void Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. Now, GOP House members are trying to dictate who the new owner of the city's major league baseball team will be.

The Washington Post's Sally Jenkins takes the gloves off:
Some Republican lawmakers don't think George Soros should be permitted to purchase a Major League Baseball team because he's too liberal and he has some wacky notions. I must have been napping, and that's why I missed the part where we became a country in which Democrats are no longer allowed to buy things.

If lawmakers start banning people from owning ballclubs just because of their politics or because they have a few woo-woo ideas, there are going to be a lot of shuttered ballparks. Anybody who tries to say that MLB owners should meet a certain standard of political correctness will get knocked back on their butts every time by two simple words: Marge Schott.

It was all right for Schott, the racist collector of Nazi memorabilia, to own a baseball team for years, but it's not for Soros, the billion-dollar philanthropist and Nobel Prize nominee?

That's exactly what some Republicans on Capitol Hill are suggesting, led by Tom Davis, the Republican (congressman) from Virginia who is trying to steer the sale of the Nationals and who says Soros is just not the kind of person "we need or want in the nation's capital."

... I don't care at all which rich guy gets the privilege of spending $400 million in heavy sugar on the [Washington Nationals baseball team]. But I do care when members of a ruling party start pushing people around, because next, it could be me. This is supposed to be the party that doesn't believe in government telling business or private citizens what to do.

... Davis is chair of the House Committee on Government Reform, which has been investigating steroid usage in baseball. Therefore, it's not just unseemly for him to pressure MLB on the Nats sale. It's a bald abuse of power.

You can't help wondering what's behind the outrageous attack on Soros, who isn't even a major partner in the bid for the Nats .... Isn't it strange that rival bidder Fred Malek, the head of the Washington Baseball club, just happens to be a very big GOP fundraiser?

... There are no fewer than eight bidders for the Nats, and every single one of them is engaged politically in some way. And all of them have warts.

You want a wart? Malek has a big one.

Malek is a former Richard Nixon aide ... (who) was summoned by Nixon to discuss a "Jewish cabal" in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nixon believed Jews in the bureau were tilting stats to make his policies look bad. He wanted to know how many Jews there were in the bureau, and he wanted Malek to count them. Malek eventually complied and produced a list. Some of them were later demoted or transferred.

Malek, who insists he is not anti-Semitic, has said that he resisted the order at first and argued with Nixon that there was no "cabal."

This is the sort of ugliness you get into when you start weighing the political desirability of baseball owners. Okay, Soros is a convicted felon in France. George Steinbrenner is a convicted felon in this country. A pardoned one, but still.

... If congressmen want to ban major Democratic fundraisers from MLB, could they please start with [Baltimore Orioles owner] Peter Angelos? Surely he's a more "polarizing" figure than George Soros? ... A lot of people find President Bush rather "polarizing," and he owned the Texas Rangers (along with Malek).

But polarizing to whom? Those who disagree with them? Or are they not polarizing, because they are conservatives?

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