Monday, June 29, 2009

Washington’s New Power Game

“Baron Hill is in training, working on his jumper, pumping iron, doing rep after tedious rep on the weight machines to strengthen his bum knee. He swore 15 years ago that he’d never play competitive basketball again, but here he is at his health club, 55 years old, shooting baskets alone. Once, he was an Indiana high school legend, a member of the state’s hall of fame. Those pictures, though, are in black and white. Just your typical bourgeois midlife crisis, right? Not exactly. Consider who Hill is—an influential member of the U.S. House of Representatives, co-chairman of the Blue Dog Democrats. Consider too that the court he’s on isn’t at a local Y. He’s in Room SB-322 of the Rayburn House Office Building: the famous House gym. Outside D.C., Hill’s new regimen would seem absurd. In D.C., it’s just doing business. Getting his basketball game up to speed isn’t about him. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s somewhat about him, about his own political future. But it’s also for the 675,000 citizens of his Indiana district, the people he has been sent here to serve. The reason he’s playing basketball isn’t because he wants to be, but because the president of the United States plays basketball. ‘It’s because of him,’ the five-term Democrat admits. ’If I ever have an opportunity to play with him, I want to be able to halfway get around that court well enough.’ At the end of his workout, just like when he was a kid, Hill won’t allow himself to leave until he has made 10 straight free throws.”

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