Obama trips on dumb Ravens-Redskins question
President Barack Obama has made more visits to Maryland than any other state since taking office. But he still has a lot to learn about Maryland.
Take professional sports culture.
At Obama's town hall-style meeting with seniors Tuesday in Montgomery County, a 69-year-old audience questioner advised the president that the U.S. medical system needs more "archers" and fewer "expensive football teams" (it was a complicated comparison).
Obama began his response by saying he'd steer clear of football. Then, he entered that territory anyway.
He asked audience members if they were mainly Ravens or Redskins fans. He should have known better. Sort of like asking a crowd on Chicago's south side if they were mainly White Sox or Cubs fans (Sox, of course).
Mr. President, the Ravens and 'Skins both play their home games in the state. But in Maryland, as elsewhere, sports loyalty is largely a matter of geography. In places like Howard County, there's an invisible dividing line between Baltimore and Washington fans (in western areas of the state, closer to Pittsburgh than Baltimore or DC, the Steelers dominate). Any closer to DC, you're in rabid Redskins territory.
White House planners, as they often do, had provided Obama with a "real world" backdrop. The idea was to get him out of Washington, but no more than absolutely necessary, to limit the drain on his time.
As a result, the address may have said Wheaton, Maryland, but the venue was culturally Washington.
Needless to say, the audience favored the 'Skins (though one member voiced support for Navy).
Perhaps Obama should put the Ravens-Redskins pre-season game on his August schedule, so he can explore this topic in greater detail. As with presidential visits to an Army-Navy game, he could spent each half on an opposite side of FedEx Field, and possibly get to know Maryland a little better.