Ok, so there’s a story making the rounds today about Ricketts family patriarch, Joe Ricketts, who has no meaningful involvement in the running of the Cubs, funding a PAC that is considering launching a particularly aggressive attack against President Obama. Feel free to read the piece, but keep in mind that nothing has happened yet. We don’t really know how this is going to play out, so I’m not really sure it’s time to rip a guy based on assumptions of what’s to come (unless you want to rip the guy for his politics, in general, which is your prerogative – but take it somewhere else).
I don’t think the story is really all that interesting as a “baseball” story, and, instead, is more about political campaigning, private dollar use in elections, and the nature of how folks get elected. I’m cynical, and nothing I read surprises me. (Avoid talking politics in the comments. I know it’s hard, given the nature of the story, but it’s just too damn divisive, and we don’t need it in a place where we’re all Cubs fans, mmkay?)
But where the story does take on a compelling “baseball”/”Cubs” angle is in the Cubs’ current efforts to secure public dollars in Chicago to help renovate Wrigley Field. As you know, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel – who’s driving this bus – is President Obama’s former Chief of Staff. And, obviously, President Obama hails most recently from Chicago, and I’m sure those political ties don’t die in a few short years.
So, the obvious question is: if the Joe Ricketts’-funded PAC goes through with this attack, will it hurt the Cubs’ efforts to secure public funding in Chicago? Crain’s writer Greg Hinz is looking into that question, but doesn’t yet have an answer. Obviously you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or watch ‘The Wire’ to know that it’s a conceivable problem.
It’s also a torturedly complex issue for a family with at least one member who’s a huge political supporter of President Obama (Laura Ricketts), and another member who undoubtedly wants all of this to stay completely off the pages and the TVs (Tom Ricketts). Does Joe care about the impact his actions might have on his kids and/or the Cubs? That’s not a rhetorical question, mind you, because I have no idea. We may never know.
Folks are entitled to do the political thing as they see fit, and I’m not going to dump on anyone for doing it. But this is a pretty sticky wicket. Can Tom Ricketts avoid commenting on this completely? I kind of hope he can.
I don’t really know where this goes from here, but as an unapologetic Cubs fan, I hope it blows over, and discussions about Wrigley Field continue unabated.
UPDATE: Wow, well that was fast. From a Joe Ricketts spokesman:
Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called “Ricketts Plan” to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.
So, according to Ricketts, he saw the proposal, rejected it, and says it reflects an approach to politics that he doesn’t agree with. You can be suspicious, but that’s exactly what I said might happen, and why I preached caution. Some of you think I’m just an apologist, but I’m not: I’m cautious because I’ve seen so many of these two-sides-to-every-story situations before.