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To me, hearing this story was just stunning. Its good to see the R's attacking the issues that matter to us, like whether George Soros can be a minority owner of the Nats.
And no, I'm not kidding...
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 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."
An even nastier abuse came from Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), who actually suggested baseball's antitrust exemption might be in trouble on the Hill if MLB let Soros have the Nats.
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. (Local entrepreneur Jon Ledecky is the real bidder.) 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? And isn't it strange that, in a telephone interview, Davis went out of his way to praise Malek's bid? And isn't it strange that these attacks on Soros from Republicans came on the very day that Ledecky and his partners were being interviewed by MLB?
Davis doesn't bother to hide his agenda. He says straight out that baseball needs to cultivate some good will on Capitol Hill at the moment, given the steroid investigations, and that selling the team to billionaire Soros, a critic of President Bush and a massive financial supporter of liberal causes, would anger him.
"They could use some friends on the Hill right now, and this is not the way to make them," Davis said yesterday
But Davis has another problem with Soros, too. He's an "out of towner." Listening to Davis, you wonder if he's next going to say Soros's Hungarian accent is too thick.
"I mean, to me, Soros is the guy who has so much money and wants to buy the world," Davis said. "I mean that's not what baseball's about. This is above all a fan sport. This is the Nationals, and they're going to give it to some multinational?"
An even nastier abuse came from Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), who actually suggested baseball's antitrust exemption might be in trouble on the Hill if MLB let Soros have the Nats
"You've got a league with a steroid problem, and you're going to sell the team to a guy who is pro marijuana? I just don't think we need or want that in the nation's capital. I just don't think you want such a polarizing figure."
Well, well, well. It took George Soros for hypocritical Republican politicians to finally oppose tax-subsidized sports stadiums and antitrust exemptions for baseball.
Mark this down as a milestone moment when I side with the likes of Soros and Democrat Rep. George Miller, who asks:
Why should politics have anything to do with who owns the team...So Congress is going to get involved in every baseball ownership decision? Are they next going to worry about a manager they don't like? I've never seen anything as impotent as a congressman threatening the baseball exemption. It gets threatened half a dozen times a year, and our batting average threatening the exemption is zero.
Joe Weedon at The Yellow Line has it exactly right:
It’s the Congressional Republicans that are making this a political issue, not George Soros or his ownership group. If Congress wants to be fair, perhaps the ownership groups that include ex-Senator Peter Fitzgerald and ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell should also be barred from owning the team. In fact, maybe President Bush should be asked to return the millions he made from the sale of the franchise formerly known as the Washington Senators (Texas Rangers).
It's about time faux fiscal conservatives in the GOP got called on for their longtime championing of publicly financed sports palaces and special government exemptions, which have enriched many private individuals on both sides of the political aisle. This stupid anti-Soros stunt is blowing up in Republicans' faces.
As well it should.