It’s not the main one, though, just the comically costumed mascots who run around Nats Park once per game. The nightly race among Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt is getting a fifth contestant, to be announced tomorrow.
Any addition has to be the perfect President.
Naturally, DC-centric media outlets have been running polls since the hint was dropped last fall. So who do you pick to join the Rushmores? George, Abe, Tom, and Teddy represent historically significant figures who are also outside of mainstream controversy, so you have to balance fame and significance.
We can eliminate most Presidents for being too boring. Sure, people like Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley had the same office as Washington and Linclon – just like Bubba Crosby had the same job as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. (Martin Van Buren goes in this group, too – even if it means a harsh visit from the Van Buren Boys.) James Madison, James Monroe, Ulysses Grant, and Harry Truman were more significant historically, but in a history class kind of way. They’re on the Dwight Evans/Dale Murphy level of Presidents – if you watched them play they were pretty good, but today’s ten-year-old baseball fans probably don’t know them yet. There are the incompetent one-termers, like Carter and Hoover, and corrupt cesspool dwellers like Nixon and Harding (who suffers from guilt by association here).
For historically significant, household-name Presidents, there’s Reagan, JFK, FDR, and Jackson. Given the pro-government-expansion zeitgeist of modern Washington, Reagan would be an out-of-place choice; in a few years when Republicans control everything that may resonate more. FDR’s confinement to a wheelchair would make for an interesting cameo but probably disqualify him long-term.
JFK has made a previous appearance, so he is probably the favorite. It’s a good pick: there are elements of the JFK presidency that appeal to both conservatives and liberals, and he was a larger-than-life celebrity President. The main strike against him is that a giant, foam rubber caricature might diminish the grimness of his Presidency’s end, but it hasn’t seemed to be the case for Lincoln.
Now that we’ve selected the next President to join the race, here’s an even better idea: How about a rotating “Guest President”? FDR could win a race in his wheelchair one night against the Phillies; the next night the Diamondbacks might see a rotund Taft bouncing past the finish line ahead of Teddy. Nixon could unfurl the “finish line” from a reel off an old-style tape recorder. Ford could fall down. Grant could fall down drunk. James Buchanan could hit on a guy in the front row. These jokes practically write themselves.
On the other hand, since the Nats are actually good now, maybe all this is an exercise in overthink – after all, in Milwaukee, they just have sausages.