Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Re: The Names Of The Washington Professional Sports Teams.

February 26, 2008

Re: The Names Of The Washington Professional Sports Teams.


I am reading an advance copy of a book that will be published in May called The Cult of the Presidency. It is a Cato Institute book authored by Cato’s senior editor, Gene Healy. Because Cato is libertarian rather than necessarily deeply conservative at all times and about all things, I not infrequently find myself agreeing with its positions, positions which most of America, and the conventional wisdom, usually dislike. So it is with The Cult of the Presidency. Healy is giving us extensive unvarnished truth that is unpalatable to the conventional wisdom, truth that includes, I will immodestly say, matters which I began writing about in the late 1960s to the derision of hotshots at Yale Law School, federal judges, lawyers generally, students of the presidency and the body politic. But we are now at the point -- are long past the point -- where the truths spoken by Cato, Healy and a few others can no longer be ignored. It’s my hope that the Cato/Healy book, authored in the belly of the beast, in Washington, DC, where Cato is a big deal and is not usually ignored as the rest of us are, will be the beginning of serious rethinking by a lot of people about the disastrous nature of the Presidency since at least 1960, if not well before.

So far, it probably sounds as if this is a posting about Healy’s book. Well, it isn’t. I shall post about Healy’s work in the future. Also, he will be at our law school to do a one or two hour television interview about his book in late April for Books of Our Time and to appear at a conference on characteristics of successful presidents.

This post, however, is about a sports thought triggered by one word -- “moronic” -- in a paragraph in the book dealing with Steven Colbert’s appearance at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an orgy of Washingtonian big dealism held every year. That paragraph, in turn, is part of Healy’s attack on the hero worship which envelops the president and is fostered by presidents, their hangers-on, the mainstream media, the punditocracy, and others who make their living in Washington.

Here is the paragraph in question and the first part of the first sentence of the next paragraph:

In 2006, Daily Show alum Steven Colbert was the featured comic at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the annual gathering of D.C. journalists where the president is expected to show up and be a good sport by putting up with some gentle ribbing. Colbert wasn’t gentle. In character as the moronic right-wing talk-show host he plays on the Daily Show spinoff The Colbert Report, Colbert compared the Bush administration with the Hindenburg disaster, sarcastically applauded our “success” in Iraq, and suggested that the president was an ignoramus who refused to seek accurate information because “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” A former top administration aide who attended the dinner commented that the president was furious: he had “that look [like] he’s ready to blow.” Colbert’s performance was open, in-your-face disrespect for the presidency, and many people didn’t care for it. Many didn’t like it 10 years earlier at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, when President Clinton had to sit uncomfortably while shock jock Don Imus cracked jokes about Clinton’s marital infidelities (though, then as now, how offended one was largely depended on one’s party affiliation).

Despite the vestiges of hero-worship on display in the press and in popular entertainment . . . . [Citation omitted.]

Now, my recollection is that the live audience at the dinner didn’t laugh at Colbert’s humor, but that he was thought hysterically funny by a large number of people in the TV audience or who saw parts of his performance later replayed on TV (if this occurred, as I think it did). I know that I thought him hysterical, and you can see why from Healy’s paragraph. But for the Washington hotshots in the live audience who were celebrating their big dealism, Colbert’s humor hit too close to home, including, if I remember rightly, remarks he made about the Washington press corps sometimes failing in its duty to do nothing but transcribe and print what the President says. (Let me know if I remember incorrectly.)

But that word “moronic,” as in “moronic right-wing talk-show host,” set off thoughts in my mind about the names of the Washington sports teams. They are called the Redskins (football), the Wizards (basketball), the Nationals (baseball), the Capitals, or Caps (hockey). Now Nationals and Capitals are names that at least have something to do with Washington, DC, since it is the national capital. But Redskins? Wizards? What have they got to do with Washington? Indian-slaughterers and Bumblers would be far more apt names for teams from Washington.

But the word “moronic” really provides the key, I think. And that key unlocks the thought that all the Washington teams should be given the same name, a name that fully represents the city and the quality of what it says and does. They should all be named “The Washington Morons.”

This could, of course, cause some confusion. When writers write or speakers speak of The Washington Morons, how would we know which team they are referring to? Are they referring to the football team, the baseball team, one of the other teams? That is an easy problem to solve, however. Back in the day when New York, for over three decades, had both a baseball team and a football team named the Giants, the football team was often referred to as the New York Football Giants to distinguish it from the teams of Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell and Willie Mays. For a very few years in the late 1940s and perhaps even into the earliest 1950s, there were also a New York professional football team called the Yankees and a Brooklyn professional football team called the Dodgers. Maybe they too were referred to as the football Yankees or the football Dodgers to distinguish them from the baseball teams. I really don’t know, but I am sure about the New York Football Giants.

So there is an obvious answer to the problem of confusion if all the Washington teams were called The Morons. We would be able to distinguish among the teams called The Washington Morons by calling them, respectively, The Washington Baseball Morons, The Washington Football Morons, The Washington Basketball Morons, and The Washington Hockey Morons. Or, for short, they could be referred to as follows in headlines (or speech). “Baseball Morons Lose Eight Straight; Emulate Senators (the baseball ones).” Or “Football Morons Hire New Coach; New Moron Leader Says Will Emulate Success of Joe Gibbs By Winning Three Super Bowls -- Without A Quarterback.”

So there would be no problem distinguishing among teams. The only problem left is a human one that could affect the players or the fans. It could be suggested that, if asked who he plays for, a player would have to say “I’m a Moron,” or “I’m a baseball Moron.” Or, when traded to Washington, he would have to say “Oh, I’m a Moron now.” That would be an unfair burden to put on players. But it too is a problem that could be easily solved. If asked who he plays for, a player could say, “I play for the Washington Baseball Morons.” Or, in speaking of a trade, he could say, “I’ve been traded to the Washington Football Morons.” Similarly, a diehard Washington football fan, like one who waited 30 years to get a season ticket and fondly remembers the Hogs, would not have to say “I’m a Moron fan,” but could instead say, more elegantly, “I’m a fan of the Washington Football Morons.” (Of course, maybe someone like that should say “I’m a Moron fan.)

These answers would impose the horrid burden of saying a few more words than otherwise, but they would do the job. Everyone would know what the player or fan meant, and nobody would think him moronic. For he would not, after all, be a member of the group that can rightly be called “The Washington Political Morons” or “The Washington Media Morons.” And calling all the sports teams “The Morons” would be superbly representative of the major “industries” of the city. It’s just so perfect, isn’t it?*



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* This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website, VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com. All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law. If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at Velvel@mslaw.edu.

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