Washingtonian.com’s Washington’s Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales sorts fact from fiction in the stories Washingtonians love to tell. Some of our favorite rumors are:
The Rumor: Robert E. Lee’s profile is carved into the back of Abe’s head at the Lincoln Memorial.
The Verdict: False
Look carefully, believers say, and you’ll spot Lee’s features in the tufts of Abraham Lincoln’s marble hair, gazing out toward Lee’s Arlington home. We’re sure if you look even closer, you also may see Santa Claus or Osama bin Laden. According to the National Park Service, any resemblance to the Confederate general was entirely unintended by sculptor Daniel Chester French.
The Rumor: The Washington Redskins have accurately predicted every presidential election since 1936.
The Verdict: True—95 percent of the time.
A winning record is a rare sight at FedEx Field these days—except when it comes to the football team’s ability to forecast the next President. The “Redskins rule” says that if the team wins its last home game before the general election, the incumbent party stays in the White House. And for decades, the rule held true.
Then in 2004, the Redskins dropped a Halloween home game to the Green Bay Packers. According to the pattern, incumbent George W. Bush would lose to John Kerry. Two days later, Bush won, putting an end to the 68-year streak. In 2008, the streak resumed when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Redskins the day before the election, suggesting that Republicans would lose the White House and Barack Obama wouldn’t be a senator much longer.
We’ll have to wait until 2012 to see—but we bet President Obama will be rooting for the home team next fall.