There’s not much you can tell a 70-year-old billionaire. He’s too old and too rich to care what anybody thinks.
But the Ricketts children need to sit down and have a talk with their father. Like so many right-wing Republicans, Joe Ricketts has allowed his disdain for what he sees as a socialist Muslim Kenyan squatting in the White House to cloud his judgment. In his mania to defeat Barack Obama, Old Man Ricketts is disregarding how his political activism affects his public image or his family businesses.
Ricketts was caught red-handed plotting to spend $10 million on ads linking Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. After a source leaked a copy of the plan to The New York Times, Ricketts disavowed it. But the damage was done. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has negotiated with the Cubs to spend public money on renovating Wrigley Field, is so angry he’s breaking off talks with the team. Emanuel sees the hypocrisy of a father leading a campaign against runaway spending while his son asks for a government handout. Ricketts may also be alienating Cubs fans. If the family owned the Texas Rangers or the Arizona Diamondbacks, this might not be such a big deal. But this is the president’s hometown. Even though the president is not a Cubs fan, most Cubs fans are Obama supporters. As the Ricketts plan pointed out, "they're not ready to hate this president" as spitefully as the Old Man does.
“A billionaire funded racist political outfit is not welcomed in Chicago, not in our city!” a fan wrote on the team’s official Major League Baseball forum. “I hope Cubs fans start picketing at Wrigley Field if the Ricketts klan goes ahead with their racist campaign plan.”
On Bleed Cubbie Blue, a commenter had this to say:“Papa Joe Ricketts has terribly hurt his son’s chances at being able to finance a much needed Wrigley renovation, I don’t think this Nebraska family quite understand about how things are done in the City of Chicago. Let this be a lesson learned.”
I’m not in favor of mixing sports and politics, but the Ricketts family started this by devoting their fortune to defeating Obama. In Europe, soccer teams are often proxies for religious or political viewpoints. Perhaps in Chicago, we’ll finally have two parties: the Democrats, and the Re-Cub-licans.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!