David Broder thinks so.
What has been missed by most of the historians and political scientists is the fact that political conditions in Washington began to decline in 1971, the year the baseball Senators decamped for Texas and became the Rangers.
Baseball was the tonic that soothed Washington's nerves. After a hard day in the Senate, members on opposite sides of the foreign aid bill debate could repair to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, 22 blocks away, knock back a few beers and watch Frank Howard pound the stuffing out of the ball. By the same token, disgruntled bureaucrats, bloody from fighting to save their pet programs from the fiscal surgeons in the Bureau of the Budget, could sit in the stands and enjoy the sight of Camilo Pascual baffling the Yankees with his curveball.
That tonic has been missing from Washington lo these many years, and look at the mess we are in. The city and its resident politicians now fixate on football's Redskins, who play only eight home games a year -- and in one of the ugliest stadiums ever constructed, with no certainty except that the traffic will be maddening on the way in and worse on the way out. And you wonder why the atmosphere is poisoned by anger and frustration.