The signing of LeBron James by the Miami Heat is, without a doubt, a boost for the Tea Party.
So said the Atlantic's Josh Green who wrote the following -- literally within minutes of the basketball mercenary's announcement that he was heading to South Beach, er, Miami:
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.
Persuaded? Probably not.
After all, shouldn't LeBron's move to Florida be a major win for Democrats? King James, as the Washington Post notes, has been complementary of President Obama's basketball game. He has also made only one political donation in his life: $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2008. With some more cash on hand, and with obvious admiration for the commander-in-chief, Obama's re-election campaign might have a potential bundler on hand.
But maybe LeBron's signing was good for unions. James after all is a member of the National Basketball Players Association, which, for all the financial problems of the NBA, remains one of the more powerful union groups in the nation. His off-season success surely demonstrates how labor now has increased bargaining strength.
Of course, James' broader success must be good for Charlie Crist, a political independent. The Florida governor and U.S. Senate candidate was one of the first to tweet with glee about the King's signing with the Heat. At the very least the subsequent ticket sales will show that economic stimulus did, indeed, occur on his watch. Perhaps a bump in the polls is on the way?
While we're at it, maybe Green is wrong to insist that James' departure for Cleveland is bad for that city's economy and subsequently, a fuse for further Tea Party angst. As an incredulous reader of the Atlantic piece noted to the Huffington Post:
"It used to be that you bought a LeBron James jersey, wore it for a few years, then bought a new one. Now you buy a LeBron James jersey, burn it, and go buy another one to burn. So jersey manufacturing will be way up. Also look for a big uptick in the local effigy business."
Obviously, there is a temptation to divine political meaning from major cultural events. And, by and large, it constitutes a pointless, futile exercise. The ramifications of LeBron's move to the Heat seem pretty much confined to the world and business of sports.
Except if you're Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in which case last night was great news.
"LeBron could theoretically have ended up with the Lakers, which would have made the Suns' path to the finals more difficult," said one sports fan and progressive activist. "Therefore, this is good for Arizona, and by extension, it's good for Arizona's senior senator, John McCain."