A Ricketty ride into super PAC world

Joe Ricketts’ political action plans should give us all a greater appreciation of John McCain.
Ricketts unwittingly rocked the political world Thursday when the New York Times revealed his super PAC’s plans to effectively sabotage the Democratic National Convention in September. At the center of the plan – yet to be finalized and ultimately subject to Ricketts’ approval – are television ads revisiting President Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
It’s virtually impossible to count the strategic holes in “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.” Let’s just say the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen looks like a Wrigley Field brick wall by comparison.
Ricketts, of course, is the patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs. That the family includes daughter Laura, a key fund-raising figure in the Obama reelection campaign, is but a small irony here. A seeing-eye single amid a barrage of extra-base inconsistencies and hypocritical home runs.
The big blow, of course, is that Ricketts is going after Chicago’s favorite son while his family asks Chicagoans to pony up for improvements to Wrigley. Crain’s Chicago Business’s Greg Hinz outlined the project’s costs, and the family’s bond and tax-break requests, late last month.
No, you’re not confusing things. The Ricketts family wants you to help fix Wrigley, and to do so needs the blessing of former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. And the family patriarch has a super PAC called Ending Spending Action Fund, and its proposal says, effectively, America doesn’t hate Obama enough.
According to Thursday’s Times story, the 53-page document “lament(s) that voters ‘still aren’t ready to hate this president,’ “ and Ricketts is upset with McCain for nixing an inflammatory Wright ad in 2008. “If the nation had seen that ad,” the Times quotes Ricketts as saying in the proposal, “they’d never have elected Barack Obama.”
Lest we conclude that Ricketts is this wantonly tone-deaf or arrogant, he did react quickly Thursday to the massive strategic blunder that is this document’s leak. Ricketts retreated via a statement from his camp that said, in part, “(this proposal) reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects.”
The statement concluded that the idea to run the Rev. Wright ads has been rejected.

In fact, statements are flying around everywhere and Emanuel is none too pleased. Hinz again.
Which brings us back to McCain. Maybe the 2008 Republican nominee isn’t “a crusty old politician who often seemed confused,” as the super PAC’s attack plan indicated.
Maybe the longtime Arizona senator had the foresight and political acumen to know what it took an embarrassing leak for Ricketts to see: That attacks on character, on either side, do little but lather up voters you already have locked up. And they can be counter-effective by causing resentment among those of us in the forgotten political middle.
And just maybe, the nation’s interests were better served before the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which overturned much of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Bill.
Because maybe unfettered spending by the founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade has more to do with enabling the privatization of Social Security than it has to do with Jeremiah Wright’s views on race, much less Barack Obama’s.


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