Obama, the Nationals, and the Politics of Opening Day

Your Gaggler is here at sunny Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Opening Day, where President Obama threw out a looping, carefully lofty first pitch, and the world-class Philadelphia Phillies are easily dismantling the capital city's (still) hapless home team.

Politically, the key moments were obvious enough. When the giant scoreboard showed a video cavalcade of presidents throwing out the first pitch—all the way back to William Howard Taft—there were lusty boos the instant George W. Bush showed up on the screen. My sense was that it was mostly fans of the Nationals. Then, when Obama strode out to the mound—wearing a red Nationals jacket—there were lots of cheers but also lots of boos. My sense was that it was mostly Phillies fans (and there were a lot of them in the park).

On the other hand, everyone in the packed house cheered at the sight of the wounded warriors who lined the dugout in an honor guard just before "The Star Spangled Banner." And everyone loved the rendition of "God Bless America" sung by Miss America. Unprompted, people shouted "USA!" to each other.

So yes, there are two Americas, only 130 miles apart on Interstate 95 but worlds apart in some ways. And yet on pleasant day at the ballpark it all seems manageable and benign—as long as the Nationals are no threat to the Phils.

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