If hypocrisy had a face, a look, a certain familiar strut, it would be that of old favorite Curt Schilling as he pushed his way through a swirling collection of reporters and photographers in Providence this week with absolutely nothing of consequence to say.
Curt Schilling, mute, the one time he actually owed an explanation. Perfect.
But that’s a minor point, really. There’s a larger hypocrisy in his failing video game venture, the one that Rhode Island state officials giddily backed to the tune of $75 million in loan guarantees, which seems to be a fancy financial term for taking $75 million in hard-earned taxpayer cash and tossing it in the Providence River.
And that is this: Schilling spent no small amount of time in his career preaching the Republican mantra of smaller government and personal responsibility. He did this fresh off the historic Red Sox World Series win when he backed George W. Bush in the 2004 campaign. He did it on the stump on behalf of John McCain in 2008.
He did it for Scott Brown in January 2010, when he wrote in his blog, “He’s for smaller government,’’ and lauding Brown’s opposition to “creating a new government insurance program.’’
Smaller government? Call me crazy, but I’m betting that wasn’t exactly what Schilling was extolling when he sat behind closed doors on Wednesday pleading with the members of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. to put more public money behind his fantasy video game venture. And insurance? It seems like that’s precisely what he got.
Apparently smaller government, in Schilling’s world, applies to other people, maybe city kids stuck in underperforming schools or disabled adults looking for help back and forth to medical appointments. But for a former six-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher whose business venture can create jobs (!), bask in the greatness, people, and open the public vault.
Let’s stipulate here that the Rhode Island officials who committed this public money to 38 Studios are idiots. I mean nothing negative by that; it’s just the only possible adjective that applies. All right, maybe “sycophants’’ works as well because they were probably hyperventilating at the sight of his World Series rings and that he knew their names. Really, what public official bets the farm on a video game called “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,’’ while Central Falls is in receivership and Providence is fending off bankruptcy?
By the way, a special word of thanks to everyone on Beacon Hill who took a pass on Schilling’s little post-baseball indulgence. Kind of ironic that the guy who preaches smaller government had to leave Massachusetts to find a program big enough to back him.
Schilling’s hypocrisy is really a nation’s hypocrisy in this era of unparalleled greed. Look no further than Wall Street bankers for the biggest hypocrites of them all. JPMorgan Chase, to name one firm, happily took $25 billion in federal bailout money in the Troubled Asset Relief Program when the bottom fell out the autumn of 2008.
But like virtually every other bank, JPMorgan then railed against government regulations designed to prevent another meltdown, with the company’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, recently terming some of the federal proposals as “infantile’’ - that last revelation courtesy of a New York Times column this week. Those proposals don’t seem quite so infantile in light of JPMorgan’s latest loss of $2 billion-and-rising in trading risky credit derivatives.
It may be worth mentioning that Schilling earned $114 million in his illustrious career, including $8 million in 2008, his final season, when he signed a one-year deal before injuries prevented him from throwing a single pitch. It must’ve been his left arm he thrust out for public funds.
Maybe this experience will give Schilling a greater appreciation for government. But that, like his video game, is probably pure fantasy.
McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.