How Ricketts' Plan to Spend Millions Smearing Obama as an Extreme Muslim is Backfiring
Visual source: Newseum
Wealth doesn't preclude stupid strategy, and the revelation that billionaire Joe Ricketts seriously entertained and possibly gave initial approval to a vile albeit strategically inane plan to dredge up old race-based attacks against President Obama demonstrates that even (often?) rich people with money to burn who fancy themselves brilliant political strategists...well,aren't.
Mr. Ricketts wanted to dominate the election cycle with $10 million. Instead, his plan was repudiated by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, his family's attempt to secure millions in taxpayer funds to renovate Wrigley Field is under attack, Cubs fans have even more to be disappointed about this season, and while two of his children sat in on the pitch meeting, the other two (one of whom sits on Obama's finance committee) have the type of mortified horror etched on their face that a fifteen year old might have when his mother yells out "I love you" while dropping him off right in front of the school door, in front of the coolest kids in school.
As for Mr. Ricketts's plan to be a major, narrative-driving player in national politics? Maybe next election cycle, Mr. Ricketts. Maybe next election cycle.
On to the punditry...
George Sunick at PolicyMic:
This work of genius – titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good” – intends to portray Barack Hussein Obama as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
It makes sense. Barack Hussein Obama is clearly a metrosexual, perhaps even a homosexual; after all, I just read in Newsweek that he’s our first gay president. If he wasn’t, why would he support gay rights? It just doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure about the Lincoln part because Barack Hussein Obama doesn’t wear a hat or have a beard. He does want to tear this nation apart though, so I guess that’s enough. And he’s is obviously black, since he’s from Kenya.
The plan also will attempt to associate Barack Hussein Obama with his old pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. This is very important – since Barack Hussein Obama has disavowed Wright’s statements and hasn’t enacted any policies that are in line with Wright’s “black liberation theology,” people have forgotten that Barack Hussein Obama is absolutely going to try to corrupt America by enacting policies that are in line with Wright’s black liberation theology! I don’t know about you, but Barack Hussein Obama’s not fooling me.
The plan also focuses on Barack Hussein Obama’s wasteful spending and how harmful it is to the country. It’s so important that this ad campaign is projected to cost over $10 million dollars. Now that is money well spent. For that you can thank Joe Ricketts, the aforementioned conservative billionaire. Ricketts exemplifies the best aspects of American innovation and tradition; he’s doing his part to make America better by waging a shock and awe campaign against America’s enemies – Barack Hussein Obama and the rest of those dirty socialists who support gay rights, government spending and fiscal regulations – and subjugating them to his own economic preference through his own personal army – the Republican Party.
David Haugh at The Chicago Tribune:
No Cubs fan wants to hear about a "Ricketts Plan,'' unless it involves improving the bullpen and the bunting. [...] Wrigley usually represents a no-stress, non-partisan zone, a place where you praise Castro and everybody knows you're talking about the shortstop, not the dictator. A place smack dab in the middle of a Cubbie-blue state but where Obama still will get criticized for being a Sox fan, if his name comes up at all.
But before Friday's first pitch, sorry, sadly I will wonder if fans from the North and South sides are debating starting rotations or presidential politics. I bet people sitting in the decaying stadium will discuss how the perception of the "Ricketts Plan,'' dramatically altered the reality of who pays for Wrigley renovations. I will look for the first "Rahm v. Tom'' T-shirt.
Perhaps, in a strange way, the controversy will unify Cubs and Sox fans by forcing them to cling to a common belief; that baseball is better in Chicago when the only party that matters is the one in the bleachers.
Alex Koppelman at The New Yorker:
The theory that Americans would reject Obama if they really knew about Jeremiah Wright rests on the idea that we don’t know about him, because the liberal press didn’t tell us. But we do, because they did.
In May of 2008, after Wright became a major issue in the campaign for a second time (the first was two months earlier) by making a series of public appearances, Pew conducted a survey in which it asked respondents about Wright and the media’s coverage of him. In all, eighty-four per cent of those polled said they’d heard about the remarks had made—sixty-two per cent said they’d heard “a lot,” twenty-two per cent “a little.” Only fifteen per cent said they hadn’t heard anything at all. Obama won anyway.
And, as Adam Serwer points out, despite accusations that the media protected Obama by under-covering Wright, even in 2008 the vast majority of respondents felt differently. Twenty-six per cent thought the press had given the right amount of attention to Wright; fifty-nine per cent thought there had been too much coverage of his comments.
Keith Boykin at BET:
Even though the plan isn’t going forward, the proposal itself shows they're out of touch with reality. First, they talk about "literate" Black people as if that's a rare occurrence. Second, they think Elder will persuade people. And third, they want to attack the president for being a "metrosexual." Really? [...]
And how did Mitt Romney respond to the news? When asked whether Wright is off limits in the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney said he hadn't "read the papers yet," according to Los Angeles Times reporter Maeve Reston. Perhaps that should come as no surprise since the presumptive GOP nominee has already tried to link Obama to Wright, as he did in a radio interview with talk show host Sean Hannity in February.
And though the official Wright ad campaign will never see the light of day, the racist undertone will persist through November. This is not about winning independents. This is part of a dog-whistle campaign to reach out to those crazy conservatives who think Obama is a radical socialist Muslim Kenyan with no birth certificate and no right to be president.
Alex Roarty at National Journal:
Romney can breathe a sigh of relief: The proposed advertisement has been scuttled after eliciting swift, sharp backlash. But the close call still highlights a potentially ominous lesson for all political candidates in 2012: In the post-Citizens United era of loosened campaign finance regulations, candidates are at the mercy of well-heeled outside groups.
Those organizations’ prodigious financial resources can be enormously beneficial, but because candidates can’t legally coordinate with them, they risk having their message hijacked and campaigns hurt by well-meaning allies. Just as easily as a multi-million dollar ad purchase can buy a candidate victory, it can also torpedo their entire effort.
“Billionaires may think they have best interest of candidate in mind, but they may not know a whole lot about winning elections and how to persuade voters,” said Rick Tyler, who worked on the super PAC supportive of former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. “And that can be dangerous for the candidate.”
Brian Naylor at NPR:
The Nebraska native recalled his first job, as a third-grader, helping the janitor of a local courthouse. The job, he said, made his parents proud. "And I felt proud of myself, cleaning bathrooms, emptying wastebaskets and sweeping floors because I had a job where I got paid. So that has always been the main focus of my life and my energies — to make money. And it's a lot of fun to make money."
Melissa Harris and Rick Pearson at The Chicago Tribune:
He has long railed against government spending on pork-barrel projects, an irony given the Cubs ownership is trying to work out a deal with City Hall that would involve using $150 million in city amusement taxes to leverage a $300 million renovation of the National League's oldest ballpark. [...]
The Rickettses made a point of saying family members have diverse political views. Laura Ricketts, a major fundraiser for Obama and a Cubs co-owner, said she hoped the "misunderstanding" about her father's political efforts "will have no impact on the Cubs, which is completely unrelated. My father is not involved with the Cubs whatsoever. My hope is it won't have an impact, but we'll see."
But after Thursday's events, the tax incentives that were under consideration are likely "off the table right now," according to an Emanuel aide.
Jake Tapper at ABC News:
The Super PAC he is funding has stated its intent to spend at least $10 million on its activities. Last month, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ricketts sold 521,988 share of common stock in the company for $20.04 Per Share – worth $10.46 million.
So does it bother TD Ameritrade that he appears to be cashing in TD Ameritrade stock to run this campaign?
“We have many shareholders and we can’t legislate what people do with their money,” Hillyer said. [...] “His political activities are not those of the company,” Hillyer said again.