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Inside the Beltway: Redskins as in spuds
Question of the Day
President Obama’s comment that the Washington Redskins should consider changing their name to avoid offending Native Americans has generated much discussion, both pro and con. Pressure grows, pollsters poll and protesters protest, while several major news organizations now refuse to use “Redskins” in their coverage. Something to consider if the situation reaches a critical level or the court system: “redskins” are also a variety of good, reliable, often beloved potatoes that often appear at tailgate parties.
Fans may have trouble screaming “Go Redskins, you hot potatoes, you’re smokin!’ ” But as marketers know, naming sports teams — like naming missiles or combat aircraft — can be a complicated affair. Use of the names “Geronimo” as a U.S. Navy code word or “Tomahawk missiles” continue to rankle several Native American activists, who took their complaints about such “militarization” before the U.S. Senate.
Also consider that in 2005, the NCAA ruled that only a single school was allowed to use an American Indian mascot or imagery at NCAA-sanctioned post-season events.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke remains the home of the “Braves,” and no wonder. The campus was founded in 1887 by and for Native Americans; 20 percent of the students currently enrolled are Native Americans. Seventeen other universities, however, were banned from using their American Indian athletic symbols because they were judged “hostile or abusive.” Pembroke “made a very compelling case to retain its nickname and imagery,” an NCAA spokesman said at the time.
And what about those ‘Skins? Will it come down to Redskins, the potato? Oddly enough, the team itself already sells a “Washington Redskins Mr. Potato Head” figure, part of the NFL’s own “Sports Spuds” line of team collectibles.
“You’ve just gotta love the spuds,” the team store advises. “The officially licensed NFL Washington Redskins spud is dressed in a jersey, cleats and a Redskins helmet, carrying a football. He comes with two interchangeable faces.”
THE FOX NEWS OVERHAUL
Big doings in the Fox News lineup beginning Monday, the 17th anniversary of the network. It is, however, the first major change in 11 years, a source tells Inside the Beltway. Shepard Smith begins his one-hour program from the newfangled, social-media embedded “Fox News Deck” at 3 p.m. In prime time, Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” takes over at 7 p.m., followed by The O’Reilly Factor” with Bill O’Reilly at 8 p.m., and the new “Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly at 9 p.m., meant to focus on all the late- breaking stories that emerge after close of business.
Finally, Sean Hannity appears at 10 p.m., touting such interactive features as viewer voting and exclusive content right from producers in the control room. The network notes that Mr. Hannity “will continue to showcase his provocative style and conservative commentary on politics and the American agenda.”
The biggest challenge for Republicans as they grapple with the White House is to maintain their composure. “We have witnessed the impressive shutdown theater engineered by the Obama administration,” says Powerline.com columnist Scott Johnson, following the spectacle of closed memorials, furloughs and angst.
“This is political hardball, intended to induce unconditional surrender in the current and prospective budget/debt showdowns. President Obama asserts a maximalist position and we are to be impressed by the lengths to which he will go in order to prevail. He is utterly confident in the cover that the media will provide for him,” Mr. Johnson continues.
“Obama has adopted a Chicago-style variant of a time-tested strategy, but is it working? Probably. He holds a lot of the cards and is counting on the GOP to fold. It’s not a bad bet.”
There are variables, though. Some “unfriendly and unhelpful” images and information continue to vex the Obama administration, Mr. Johnson points out.
“It appears that President Obama likes his position and the Republicans would give up if they could come away with anything. If the Republicans can maintain their composure while holding a disadvantageous position — concededly a big if — we may find that we are writing a new chapter of an old story. As for the moment, I’m leaving it an open question,” Mr. Johnson concludes.
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