21 May 2012
Last week I returned to a theme I've touched on before: the gulf between conservative perceptions of Barack Obama and those of the general American population. This comes on the heels of a New York Times report revealing that a coterie of Republican strategists were trying to put together an ad campaign using Obama's controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright against the President. Here's the gist of my piece:
The scheme is, according to the Times, still in preliminary stages, and [billionaire donor Joe] Ricketts is yet to approve it. Which is lucky, because as currently consituted, I'm missing the part where it's brutally effective. Jeremiah Wright? Again?
Yet this seems to be a pattern running through Republican attempts to unseat Obama this campaign season. Conservatives are convinced that the President was given a free pass by a napping media in the 2008 campaign. They believe he was insufficiently vetted, and that both reporters and the campaign of Republican nominee John McCain failed to draw the public's attention to parts of Obama's biography that the right considered troubling. After three years in office and with two books penned by the President readily available in stores across the United States, many on the right are still firmly convinced that Obama is a mystery man about whom the American public knows little.
Since my piece went up, the Romney campaign has (wisely) rejected the commercial and Ricketts has distanced himself from the scheme. (The Times stands by its reporting.) Meanwhile, Chicago mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is reportedly furious with Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not returning calls from the Ricketts family and is “livid” over a New York Times report that Joe Ricketts commissioned a proposal for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign linking President Obama to the president’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, according to an Emanuel aide.
Joe Ricketts’s children, which include Obama bundler Laura Ricketts, bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and have been in talks with the city about renovating the team’s 98-year-old stadium, Wrigley Field.
That appears to be on hold now.
The Ricketts family is seeking taxpayer funding for the renovations. Emanuel has reportedly sought to put $100 million in tax incentives into the deal.
If Emanuel really is nixing plans to renovate a stadium because he doesn't like a team owner's politics, this is a gross abuse of power. Ricketts might have been interested in running a crazy and rather racist ad campaign, but that doesn't mean he should be treated any differently by his mayor. One shady political turn doesn't deserve another.