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June 28, 2005

I saw this report about Republican reaction to a bid by an investment team that includes George Soros to buy the Washington Nationals, the new DC major-league franchise -- and I hoped that Roll Call had it wrong. The Washington Post also covered it in their sports section (link via Michelle Malkin), but unfortunately the story hardly improved in the retelling. GOP Congressmen John Sweeney and Tom Davis issued veiled threats to Major League Baseball if the latter allowed Soros to buy into the national pastime:

Major League Baseball hasn't narrowed the list of the eight bidders seeking to buy the Washington Nationals and some Republicans on Capitol Hill already are hinting at revoking the league's antitrust exemption if billionaire financier George Soros , an ardent critic of President Bush and supporter of liberal causes, buys the team.

"It's not necessarily smart business sense to have anybody who is so polarizing in the political world," Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.) said. "That goes for anybody, but especially as it relates to Major League Baseball because it's one of the few businesses that get incredibly special treatment from Congress and the federal government."

Rep. Tom M. Davis III (R-Va.), who was a strong supporter of bringing a baseball team to Virginia, told Roll Call yesterday that "Major League Baseball understands the stakes" if Soros buys the team. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

What the hell?

This is what concerns our GOP caucus at the moment? What happened to Social Security reform, trimming pork from the budget, and supporting the war effort? Why do two Republicans in the House have anything to say about the ownership of the Nats?

Life must truly be perfect if this is what gets Sweeney and Davis perturbed.

Davis, after being challenged on his priorities, came up with the dumbest rationalization possible, under the circumstances:

Davis didn't return calls to his office, but spokesman Robert White said, "The point [Davis] was making was how it would look if Major League Baseball sells the hottest team in the market to a guy who spent more money than the gross domestic product of Colombia to legitimize drugs."

Oh, my. So Congress wants to dictate what kind of politics people should have as a prerequisite to owning a baseball team? Granted, baseball has an obnoxious antitrust exemption granted to them by Congress, so the concept of oversight shouldn't be rejected out of hand. If Davis wants to exercise oversight, though, he should start by eliminating the financial incentives that baseball uses to extort public financing for its palacial private stadiums. Perhaps after that, he could then address the labor issues that the exemption has created and exacerbated over the past four decades.

But what Congress should not do is to demand political philosophy thresholds for ownership, either for the obviously partisan motives that Sweeney and Davis have or for the ostensible war-on-drugs opposition that Davis references. This is nothing but stupid, petty, and self-destructive posturing that makes politicians look foolish in the extreme. The GOP needs to reject it outright, and immediately.

UPDATE: Gerry at Daly Thoughts adds his voice to the criticism.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 28, 2005 7:43 AM

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