LeBron James -- Democratic donor, tea party helper and more
By Garance Franke-Ruta
LeBron James's decision to sign with the Miami Heat wouldn't at first blush seem to have a lot of political implications, but that hasn't stopped politicians from trash-talking his choice or bloggers from looking for underlying political angles.
"How can you tie in transparency to LeBron James' mid-career migration to Miami?" asks the Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal in a blog post Friday.
Easy enough, apparently.
"According to the Center for Responsive Politics, James contributed $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2008 election," he reports.
One Democrat James is interested in going head to head with is also famous for his moves on the court -- President Obama, who had been rooting for James to join his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls.
"I think President Obama would hold his own. I've seen him shoot the ball -- he's a lefty, too. You know, pretty much all lefties can shoot," James pronounced on ESPN after his much-anticipated announcement last night. "He's worked on his game a lot; I've seen him playing with the North Carolina University also. So I think he'll hold his own."
Meanwhile, the Atlantic's Josh Green thinks James's move from Cleveland to Florida "helps the Tea Party," not the man in the White House.
His argument, based on what he saw at the Fourth of July parade in Friendswood, Tex.:
There were four tents on the parade concourse with political themes: Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, and Glenn Beck's 9-12 outfit. The first two were nearly empty; the latter two were jammed with people, so I hung out there talking to them. They were angry about a lot of stuff, but the unifying theme was their feeling that they were on the losing end of things, and to hell with the system that had put them there.
Back to Ohio. The unemployment rate is well above the national average, nearly 11 percent. The state's manufacturing base has been decimated, and those jobs aren't coming back. And now, suddenly, the biggest star in the state -- an economic engine in his own right, and a guy who probably single-handedly made Cleveland a recognizable sports mecca all over the world -- has forsaken its residents. And not just forsaken them, but utterly humiliated them by forsaking them on a globally televised ESPN special!
Would you be angry? I sure would be. And I'd be that much more amenable to the "tea party" message that everything is going to hell.
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) may not be a tea partier, but he sure was steamed after James decided to forgo a career with local teams the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets.
"When LeBron decides he wants to play in a major-league city, he can look us up," Weiner said after James announced his decision. "New York City has a combined 51 championship titles. LeBron has zero. No biggie."
Also, do yourself a favor and check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer's front page today. Masterful.
July 9, 2010; 1:02 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Cast of Characters
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