The White House is trying to insulate Joe Biden from Major League Baseball’s decision to take the all-star game away from Atlanta (it will be played in Denver, Colorado where, arguably, it’s a little easier to vote, legitimately and fraudulently). It’s understandable that Team Biden wants to distance the president from the decision, given the blowback it has produced, plus the poll showing that more Americans support Georgia’s election law than oppose it.
However, the White House has no honest way of disassociating itself from MLB’s decision. When asked whether MLB should pull the all-star game from Atlanta, Joe Biden said he would “strongly support them doing that.” Soon thereafter, MLB did it.
By way of spin, Jen Psaki tries to pull off the hidden ball trick. She stated:
[Biden] was not dictating what Major League Baseball should do. He supports them being able to make the decision. . . .
Her statement is true, but trivial. Biden lacks the power to dictate to MLB. But by using the “bully pulpit,” he can influence what this and other businesses do.
It’s likely that, by putting his thumb on the scale, Biden caused MLB to move the game. Before Biden weighed in, both Stacey Abrams and Jon Ossoff had opposed moving the game from their state. Their status as, respectively, the leading leftist on voting issue and the senior Senator from Georgia, gave MLB sufficient cover not to move the game. Biden’s statement of “strong” support for moving the game probably shifted the balance.
In the end, however, it doesn’t matter whether his statement caused the decision. Presidents are held to account for that which they say they strongly support.
If, as president, Donald Trump had said he strongly supports removing major sports events from sanctuary cities, he would have been accountable for this statement regardless of whether a subsequent pulling of an event was due to what he said. Indeed, he would have been accountable even if no event was pulled.
Trump lacked the power to tell people not to wear masks during the pandemic. But if Trump had said he strongly supports not wearing masks, it would be no defense to cite his lack of power, or to say later on that people should make their own decisions. Those who favor mask wearing would have been incensed at Trump’s statement.
Similarly, those who think it’s outrageous that MLB took sides in the dispute over Georgia’s election law should be incensed that, before MLB made its decision, Biden expressed strong support for punishing Georgia.