You know a guy is in trouble when he hires Lanny Davis as his lawyer.
Davis has developed a specialty representing Third World dictators and questionable businesses since his days as a spokesman for Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. So when Davis’s name appeared on a statement from the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon declaring that President Obama was wrong to question the team’s name, it was a sure sign that Dan Snyder is worried.
Davis, brought in this summer to help with the team-name controversy, expressed his disappointment “as a supporter of President Obama” that Obama was not aware of a decade-old poll finding that only one in 10 Native Americans were offended by the name. “We love our team and its name,” he wrote, and “we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group.”
I like Davis and admire his creativity, but, to borrow a Clinton-era phrase, let’s parse this statement. Are the Redskins really defending the name with an out-of-date survey that allowed anybody — even somebody with less native blood than Elizabeth Warren — to identify as a Native American? And even if those results were accurate, are Davis and Snyder suggesting that racism is okay if it polls well?