President Obama now has one more reason to root for the White Sox.
In one of the most stupefying political efforts I’ve ever heard of, Cubs owner Joe Ricketts is said to be considering spending millions of dollars on a campaign to defeat Obama by tying him to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ.
According to The New York Times:
A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.
The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.
The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
Ricketts has not yet signed off on the plan. It’s hard to believe he would.
This is a terrible idea for many reasons. One, voters heard plenty about Wright in 2008 and elected Obama anyway. It’s a stale accusation, and the fact that they're looking for a Clarence Thomas type to sell it is pretty much a concession that it's racist too. At this point, the president is going to be judged by his performance in office, not his membership in a church he joined in the 1980s.
Two, it’s an attack on the political culture of the city in which Ricketts does business.
The Ricketts family is from Republican Nebraska, but this is Democratic Chicago. Associating the Cubs brand with conservative politics could hurt the team’s image, and its ticket sales. The Cubs are also trying to get funding to renovate Wrigley Field from the city of Chicago, which is run by Obama’s former chief of staff, and the state of Illinois, which is controlled by Democrats from top to bottom.
Let’s hope the Ricketts children, who officially run the team, are aware of this and are trying to rein in their crusty right-wing dad. Otherwise, he’ll become the Cubs’ latest curse.
If Ricketts goes ahead with this plan, Obama supporters should boycott his team until November. Since the Cubs never play that late, that'll keep Wrigley Field empty the rest of the year.
UPDATE: Ricketts is now dissociating himself from the plan. This statement is from Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund:
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.