Q&A on the News

Q: I read in the paper where Condoleezza Rice is on the panel of football coaches to pick the four best teams in the country for the playoffs. What experience or knowledge does she have of college football?

—Andy Sims, Douglasville

A: Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009, is considered a passionate and knowledgeable football fan.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott thought Rice would be a valuable addition to the College Football Playoff committee when it was formed in 2013.

“She has a very unique combination of someone with a lot of knowledge and expertise when it comes to football, but has obviously been through some very significant processes and under a lot of pressure and scrutiny that would make college football pale in comparison,” Scott told ESPN.com earlier this year.

Rice is the only woman on the committee and is a professor at Stanford.

Q: How did the elephant and the donkey become the symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties?

—Kathy McDonough, Peachtree Corners

A: The donkey was first associated with the Democratic Party when Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, but political cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with linking the animals with those parties in the 1870s.

Nast, who worked for Harper’s Weekly and was a Republican, drew a donkey, which he labeled a jackass, to represent Democrats in an 1870 cartoon.

He again used a donkey to represent Democrats in an 1874 cartoon, this time adding an elephant to symbolize the Republican Party.

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).