Several people have e-mailed and instant messaged me the following story:
But to some Capitol Hill Republicans there is a dark cloud on the Nats’ horizon: the potential that their newly adopted home team could be purchased by billionaire financier George Soros.
Earlier this month, Soros joined an ownership bid being led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky. Their group is one of more than a half-dozen angling to take over the Nats, who are currently owned by Major League Baseball.
In addition to being a well-known currency speculator and philanthropist, Soros is also known in political circles for having pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats.
While the Soros-Ledecky group is not seen as the frontrunner to win the bidding for the Nationals, who should be awarded to their new owner at the end of the 2005 season, the very prospect that Soros could have a stake in the team is enough to irritate Congressional Republicans.
“I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes,” said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. “I don’t think they want to get involved in a political fight.”
Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, “I don’t think it’s the Nats that get hurt. I think it’s Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions” from anti-trust laws.
Indeed, Hill Republicans could potentially make life difficult for MLB in a variety of ways. In addition to being exempt from anti-trust rules, baseball is still under scrutiny over the steroid issue. The Nats, meanwhile, hope to have a publicly-funded stadium built soon, though money for that venture is expected to come through the sale of bonds rather than a federal outlay.
Still, Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that covers the District of Columbia budget, said if Soros buys the team and seeks public funding for the new stadium or anything else, the GOP attitude would be, “Let him pay for it.”
“We’re not going to interfere with [the sale], but from a fan’s perspective, who needs the politics?” Sweeney said.
After enough years of watching these so-called free-market, small government Republicans insert themselves into every issue imaginable, I apologize for not treating this story seriously. After observing them cheerleading Rove’s remarks, rushing to pass the Schiavo legislation, and passing the flag burning amendment as well as numerous other insults to the senses and common decency, nothing surprises me.
This is, unfortunately, the sort of small-minded nonsense and petty attempts at revenge I have grown accustomed to from the oafish loudmouths, holier-than-thou moralists, and national busybodies the Republican Congress has become. Sadly, this was just more of the same, and wholly unremarkable from the rest of the brutish behavior of late by the beltway bully boys. I am, at this point, in a state of numb disbelief.