By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Hypocrites with their hands out

We’re all having enormous fun with the news that 38 Studios, the video-game company launched by Curt Schilling, is circling the drain after receiving some $75 million in guaranteed loans from the state of Rhode Island.

Schilling has never been shy about expressing his views as a small-government Republican. Old friend (you knew there had to be a Backscratching Day angle, didn’t you?) Steve Syre offers a particularly choice morsel in his Boston Globe column:

Schilling is a self-described conservative with a disdain for big government, which he considers intrusive and overbearing. He is a big believer in people helping themselves and solving their own problems.

A couple of lines from an old post on Schilling’s blog, 38 pitches, sums it up:

“If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

“A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.”

Entertaining though Schilling’s hypocrisy may be, that’s pretty small beans compared to the monumentally two-faced philosophy of Joe Ricketts, who may or may not be willing to fund a $10 million Super PAC campaign against President Obama centered largely around his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny report in the New York Times that Ricketts appeared to be motivated “primarily by his belief that government spending is out of control and that Mr. Obama cannot be trusted to rein in the deficit and reduce the national debt.” Which is what makes this all the more delicious: the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, is seeking $300 million in taxpayer money from the city and state in order to renovate Wrigley Field.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief-of-staff to Obama, has been working hard to come up with $100 million in city money for the Cubs, according to Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business (thanks to Kurt Hartwig for the link).

And Jim Warren of the Daily Beast quotes an unnamed Emanuel aide as saying, “The mayor is pissed. Very pissed. Very, very pissed.”

The Cubs are run by Joe Ricketts’ son Tom, whom the Times describes as apolitical. But the Cubs are by all accounts a family affair, with Hinz calling Joe Ricketts the “patriarch of the Chicago Cubs’ owning family.”

As it turns out, Joe Ricketts has 300 million reasons not to throw the Wright stuff at Obama.

Photo (cc) by Chris Brown and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.


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  1. Stephen Stein

    When Schilling’s company ran to RI for the subsidy, I thought MA did the right thing not rolling over. A (then) 5-year old software company with a significant burn rate that hasn’t shipped a product is a very bad bet.

    And the Ricketts’ Cubs thing happening at the same time he wants to revive race-baiting against the mayor’s friend is just HILARIOUS!

  2. Bill Toscano

    Dan, please reconsider your lead.

    No one should be “having enormous fun” with the possibility of people losing their jobs.

    I understand your point, though I think you’re being unfair, because the company (and Mr. Schilling is, I believe a one-third owner and his partners are far more liberal) than he is, but we are talking about real people here. Not a philosophy.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bill: No one wants to see anyone lose his job. I think we can have some fun with Schilling’s hypocrisy without having to point that out.

  3. Paul Rickter

    Socializing losses and privatizing gains while complaining endlessly about the evils of dependence on government. Somewhere, Adam Smith is vomiting uncontrollably.

  4. Bill Toscano

    Clearly I disagree, but then again you and I disagree on Curt Schilling.

    But I would still make the point that as far as I know, he is only a part-owner, and I think the other guys look at it differently.

    We look at it as “his” company because in Boston more people see him as a celebrity than R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane.

    Then again, as I backcheck, I see the company website clearly identifies him as the founder.

    While it may be schadenfraude, I don’t find it as amusing as you do.

    But it would be no fun if I agreed with you *all* the time.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bill: I actually like Schilling. But I don’t like hypocrisy. Normally his politics don’t offend me in the least, but this is too good to pass up.

  5. Nancy Mades

    According to my gamer/geek boyfriend, 38 Studio’s “Kingdoms of Amalur” pretty much stinks which explains why Schilling’s in this situation. He put out a bad product and now wants the government to cover his losses. Schilling should be ashamed of himself, but apparently he has no shame.

  6. Stephen Stein

    Proving once again that businesses and politics should not mix (“Republicans buy sneakers, too” – Michael Jordan), Tom Ricketts distances the Cubs from the anti-Obama campaign presented to his father.

  7. Rick Peterson

    I know nothing about video games but I do know a little about human nature. My late father used to say that “when it’s raining dollar bills, only a fool opens an umbrella”. My recollection is that RI offered Schilling’s firm a deal too good to pass up.(Operative word being “deal”). Now Monday Morning Quarterbacks, to mix a metaphor, don’t like the deal. Tough. The time to complain was then. Like the postal leases on vacant buildings that Fox25 is using to gin up outrage, the time to complain was THEN. Once the contract is executed, it speaks for itself. Hypocrisy in politics? I’m shocked!
    Next you will be telling me that a Senate candidate had a lucrative career kick-started by trivializing a protected class and falsely claiming to be a member of that class. (Talk about too good to pass up.)

  8. Laurence Glavin

    I have no interest in coventional, team spectator sports, not because I”m a snob (ok, I am but that’s not the reason) but because it’s my observation that the nexus between such teams and the cities, states, or in the case of the Patriots, a region that everbody ignores (as they say on “Saturday Night Live”: really?…New England? Does anybody in Derby, CT or Derby, VT care about “New England”?)is tenuous at best. Only one of the four “major league” teams around here has threatened to leave, but elsewhere threats of this kind happen all the time. Dr. Rachel Maddow last year opined that the only team directly connected to its franchise city is the Green Bay Packers. I believe it’s IMPOSSIBLE for them to move to another city. Nonetheless, I will bestow accolades on the ownership of the American League franchis allocated to Boston for making all the improvements to their ballfield on their own dime. (There must be something in the sea air around here because I’ve been told that the other franchises in the area have done the same. Good for them). And therefore I say unto the owners of the National League franchise in Chicago, go and do likewise.

  9. lou gawab

    Blaming Curt for taking a loan guarantee that was offered to him? I would take a loan guarantee if someone offered one to me!

    Instead, blame lie when government (RI) starts betting on businesses when it know nothing about it.(Can you say Solyndra?)

  10. Aaron Read

    I find it fascinating that people in the media still think that pointing out some conservative’s hypocrisy will somehow still magically shame them into changing their behavior.

    That concept died a ignoble death under Reagan almost thirty years ago, yet folks still try it. What’s that definition of insanity? Continually trying the same thing, expecting a different result?

  11. Jerry Ackerman

    My gut keeps telling me the Ricketts/Davis/Wright “proposal” was/is bogus from the get-go, but I can’t (without some reporting, at least) pin down who was supposed to gain.

  12. Joseph Rice

    I also found the proposed Jeremiah Wright advertising fishy. Who gains? Mitt Romney gets to look better by denouncing it, the issue gets dredged up for rehash, Ricketts gets that message out again but gets to keep his nine million.

  13. Jerry Ackerman

    I think John McCain nailed it when he said (or was quoted to have said) that this had all the earmarks of a political consultant fishing for new business. Perhaps Davis felt he wasn’t getting enough of the action for this year?

  14. Bill Toscano

    Dan: Maybe you were right.

    I love how he blames other people. 😉

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