Commentary Magazine


Cubs May Pay the Price for Ricketts’ Attack

Democrats have made it very clear that they will get their revenge on anyone who dares to attack President Obama, but it turns out the main victims of their payback may be Chicago’s lovable Cubbies. Since TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts has been labeled as the man who commissioned a proposal for an ad campaign that sought to publicize the link between President Obama and his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the baseball team purchased by his children in 2009 may be the object of a vendetta on the part of the president’s loyalists in Chicagoland.

According to the Washington Post, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, is “livid” about Joe Ricketts having the chutzpah to attack his old boss. The Post reports that an Emanuel aide repeated the liberal talking point about the mention of Wright being a sign of implicit racism and said the mayor was indefinitely cutting off communications with the owners of the Cubs, including Laura Ricketts, who happens to be a bundler for the president. This is not a minor issue for the family as they are trying to get the city to help them fund a renovation of the nearly century-old Wrigley Field–the hallowed home of the north side’s favorite baseball team. This may mean the effort to get Emanuel to throw in $100 million in tax incentives in the deal to spruce up Wrigley may be on hold. So while the notion that a notorious political gutter fighter like Emanuel was offended by the Ricketts is a joke, he is right about one thing: the Ricketts are “hypocrites.”

Their hypocrisy doesn’t stem from the family patriarch’s subsidy for what would have been a foolish attack on the president. Contrary to the liberal orthodoxy on this point, one can oppose the president and even mention Rev. Wright while still espousing racial harmony and running a baseball team whose players and supporters come from across the racial and national spectrum.

The Ricketts’ hypocrisy comes from their desire for public subsidies for their baseball operation while opposing the president’s support for high taxes and unlimited government spending. The sorry truth is that almost all of the millionaires and billionaires who own sports teams in this country are ardent capitalists when it comes to taxing their incomes but devout socialists when it comes to getting government to subsidize their business. As far as I am concerned, baseball is a sacred institution and renovating Wrigley is a great idea. I wish the Ricketts luck with the project, but have no sympathy for the widespread policy of team owners picking the pockets of the taxpayers in order to make their operations even more profitable.

Emanuel and every other mayor and governor in the country should never take the phone calls of team owners — no matter who they are supporting in the presidential election — so long as their purpose is to raid the public treasury for their own profit.