Of course he would. Among the public, this is a non-issue: Despite endless lefty blather about the name over the past year, including from The One himself, 79 percent side with the ‘Skins. (That’s especially dangerous to pols elected by the Redskins’ core fan base, which is why Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner refused to sign the letter.) Among the political class, though, it’s a proxy for ideology, an easy check-the-box way to polish your particular brand. That’s how this issue was able to accelerate from slow-news-day fodder on Slate last August to a cause celebre among fully half of the United States Senate. I’d be surprised if there are even five people in the chamber who’ve given this issue more than two minutes of thought, but when an opportunity to buy political piety this cheaply arises, anyone in the market for it is going to lunge. And Maverick’s always in the market.
Why didn’t Democrats ask him to sign, then?
On Thursday, Republicans dismissed the May 21 letter — signed by 49 Senate Democrats and sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida sent his own letter) — as a pointless exercise unlikely to change anything. GOP lawmakers said that they were never approached by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the former chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee who circulated the letter…
One Republican — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose state has a significant portion of Native Americans — said he “probably” would have added his signature to the letter if he had been asked. That would have elevated the stature of the Democrats’ initiative by making it both bipartisan and endorsed by the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee. McCain has joined Democrats on some social issues recently, advocating to end workplace discrimination based on sexuality and urging his governor to veto a bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay customers.
“They didn’t ask,” McCain said, confirming he still opposed the “Redskins” moniker for the team. “It’s offensive to our Native Americans.”
Yeah, McCain would have been a solid “get” for Dems here. And I bet he’s not the only Republican who would have signed. Where Maverick goes, Lindsey Graham usually follows, and then you have the usual centrist Collins/Murkowski/Kirk coalition. Being able to say that a clear majority of the Senate was opposed to the Redskins name would have been a nice talking point for Democrats, “proof” that this issue was catching on among GOPers as well. Instead, they didn’t even approach McCain. Why? Because this is about moral posturing, not about actually pressuring the ‘Skins or the NFL to do something. And if you’re going to posture, why would you invite Republicans to join you? You plant the Democratic flag on the position that “Redskins” is abhorrent to all right-thinking people and salute. When they eventually send a letter to the Koch brothers asking them politely to commit suicide for the good of America, Republicans won’t be asked to sign that one either. This is about Democratic branding, nothing more.
Here’s Maria Cantwell making an impassioned plea to the chamber to give this shiny object the brief news-cycle attention it deserves. You’re next, Chief Wahoo. Exit quotation: ““The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image,’ the league said in a statement. ‘The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.'”