It is a pretty safe bet that after his weak first pitch at the opening of the 2009 All Star game, President Barack Obama would not have much to say to Oriole Luke Scott about how to do his job. The feeling is apparently not mutual.
The headline-grabbing bit of Mr. Scott's anti-Obama rant to a sports blogger at baseball's winter meetings was his insistence, notwithstanding actual facts in evidence, that President Obama was not born in the United States. A copy of the president's birth certificate was posted online in 2008, along with the announcement of his birth and that of other newborns printed in Honolulu newspapers. For the record, it is dated August 24, 1961, 7:24 p.m. As Casey Stengel might have told Mr. Scott, "you could look it up."
Yet as "goofy" — to pull a word from the response of Oriole management to Mr. Scott's comments — as the birth certificate statement was, it was only the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Scott rambled on, linking the President with "treacherous acts" and implying that he ought to be put on trial for attempting to turn this country into a carbon copy of Soviet Russia.
Here is the heart of what Mr. Scott said:
"You know what? People who have bad intentions, people that are deceivers or are not of honor and integrity — that's how they act. I've seen it in every — it doesn't matter what level. It can be in politics, it can be in business, it can be in sports, it can be in the construction field. Doesn't matter. It's all the same attitude. It's the same thing.
"People who tell the truth, they're very easy to ... their actions prove it. Something as simple providing a birth certificate. Come on. If you're born here, there's plenty of documents. But you know what? There's no documentation of him. No legal documentation of him. There's been lie after lie after lie exposed, but people put it under the carpet. Hence, the problem we have in this country.
"There needs to be accountability for the truth. I don't care if you're the president of the United States, you need to be held accountable. If you're involved in treacherous acts, or you're saying things that are against, or are selling out our country, you should be brought to trial."
Like many people who have earned fame in one arena — last season Mr. Scott was voted by local media as the Orioles most valuable player — Mr. Scott feels emboldened to comment on national political matters. That is his right. But his comments about the president sound like those of a caller to a sports talk show who tells the world what is wrong with Mr. Scott's swing. He is out of his depth. There is a difference between informed opinion and emotional rants.
This is evidently not the first time Mr. Scott, an arch-conservative, has aired his political views, but he is considered a sufficiently likeable fellow around the clubhouse that people don't pay it much attention. After this rant, his teammate, Adam Jones, took to Twitter to reaffirm his friendship with Mr. Scott and to defend his right to free speech.
But the flip side of the freedom to express one's political views is the recognition that others have the same right, and that if they disagree with you, that doesn't make them an enemy of the state. That is a hole, a big one, in Mr. Scott's political game.