President Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day at Nationals Park, continuing a tradition that began 100 years ago and making him the second sitting president to throw the pitch since baseball returned to Washington in 2005.
To paraphrase our distinguished vice president, that's a big f***ing pitch. Most politicians never risk getting in front of an audience that hasn't been handpicked for undying fealty to their ideology. To say nothing of an audience with direct access to alcohol. And foam fingers. Most importantly, this is mere weeks after Obama orchestrated the passage of highly controversial legislation, in the face of disapproval from a majority of Americans. For a population that feels its politicians are actively refusing to listen to them, these may be the ingredients for the mother of all booing opportunities. A "boopportunity", if you will.
We of course condemn any violence, or the shouting of epithets and obscenities (real or imagined). But booing poorly performing elected officials is a legitimate exercise in free speech, as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and bailing out Chevrolet. If a politician is going to attempt to trade on his position in order to grab the spotlight at non-political public events, then those in attendance get to provide immediate feedback on his performance. That may mean cheers, that may mean boos. That's the chance you take when you step into the arena.
Of all possible public audiences, the Washington DC crowd is as sympathetic as Obama could ever hope to find. With the number of government employees and clients residing the area, it's possible he will get cheered. But then again, who knows? There have to be some people in DC who aren't net tax consumers or who like their health insurance. If nothing else, this particular crowd owes a few boos in order to at least appear to be bipartisan. See President Bush in 2005:
On the local front, I've not seen any reports about politicians making appearances at the Twins opener in Target Field. I can only image the reception an Al Franken, Betty McCollum, or Jim Oberstar might get. It might be worth them trying to horn in on the limelight, just to hear the reaction. I doubt they will be there though. Not a good fit and they know better than to openly subject themselves to public opinion like that. For them, the people may have to save their boos for the next time they encounter them on a ballot.