CBS News on RGIII’s bipartisan appeal

December 4, 2012

Two months ago, there was only one thing that could possibly unite Washingtonians of all political stripes: the Nats.

“Rooting for Nationals is bipartisan affair,” USA Today wrote.

“Washington Nationals transcend politics, give chattering class something to agree on,” The Post wrote.

“The Nationals are a true bipartisan success story,” Sports On Earth wrote.

“Washington bigwigs cross partisan divide to root on Nationals,” SI.com wrote.

Well, the months march on. The seasons change. And now there’s another narrative at play. Turns out the only thing that can unite Washingtonians of all political stripes is, you guessed it, Robert Griffin III.

“With Washington so sharply divided along party lines, and with tempers flaring over a fiscal cliff that threatens to send the country back into recession, you might wonder, is there anything in this town that can bring Republicans and Democrats together?” CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid asked in a weekend piece. (See video below.) “The answer is yes: Washington Redskins 22-year old rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, or as he’s known, RGIII. Washington, of course, is all about politics, and it takes a lot to get people to turn their attention to something – or ANYTHING – else. But at the age of 22, Robert Griffin III is doing just that.”

(Aside: No offense to anyone assigned this story, but golly, it just doesn’t ring true to me. Metropolitan Washington — as in, the people who actually live in and identify with this region and its teams — is an overwhelmingly Democratic place. And Congressional big shots from, say, Illinois or Texas sure aren’t going to self-identify as Skins fans. The star athlete in a politically divided state like Pennsylvania or Missouri would seem to have a greater task as a uniter than RGIII, whose fans are almost certainly disproportionately left-of-center. But whatever.)

“The guy was a political science major, he knows about politics, he’s clever, he’s smart, he’s funny,” Sally Quinn said in the piece. “It’s what people talk about at dinner parties, it’s what people talk about in the office, and it has united Washington in a way that I have never seen before.”

“I am a big fan,” Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen told Reid. “I think Congress would love to trade our approval ratings for his approval ratings, and the reason is, is he’s able to bring people together. As the clock winds down, we’re in the fourth quarter as we approach the fiscal cliff. If we can deliver like RGIII delivers, we’d be doing well.”

“This guy’s really impressive,” Paul Ryan said. “I like to think more that Green Bay’s America’s team, but look, RGIII, it’s great to see a young guy come out and be so successful.”

“I think he certainly offers a little bipartisan hope, and we’re all hoping that the Redskins have a very successful rest of the season,” Virginia’s Eric Cantor said.

Tune in next April, when the Washington Capitals bridge political divides. If they ever play again.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | December 4, 2012