Tuesday, April 1, 2008
If Barack Obama wins the presidency this year, it can be blamed on Star Trek. Seriously. Nobody knew the obscure Illinois state congressman until a series of fortuitous events unfolded on a steamy June day in 2004. The retiring senator from Illinois, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, had thought, as had his party, that he was leaving the seat safe in the hands of an up-and-coming Republican replacement.
With a name like Jack Ryan, anybody who's ever read a Tom Clancy novel saw the 44-year-old Republican as the inevitable candidate. Then, in a clear and suspiciously calculated move, Ryan's trophy wife, Jeri Ryan, revealed some disturbing news: that her charismatic husband had taken her to some unwholesome places and forced her to do some unwholesome things. Four years earlier. But suddenly they were news in the 2004 senatorial election.
Mr. Ryan denied the allegations at that time, and still does. They were never pursued after the avalanche of outcry overwhelmed him. Nobody has ever mentioned them again. What better time than June of 2004 to drop the bomb? Ms. Ryan, who, by the way, has kept her married name, suddenly had an attack of conscience, but it has not bothered her since then.
What timing. Too late for the Republicans to find another candidate. Too late for Mr. Ryan to clear his name. Too late for anything. Yes, there was a straw candidate that took Ryan's place: Alan Keyes, not even from Illinois. He also had a huge albatross around his neck: he had spoken out against Hillary Clinton moving to another state to run for senate. Lest we forget, she was not a New Yorker, but an Arkansan. Needless to say, Keyes never even got on solid ground with Republicans, much less with the overall electorate.
Obama, who probably didn't stand a chance in May of that year, suddenly began an ascendancy that led to a landslide election to the senate seat. Understand, Obama was a totally unknown quantity. Hey, even my Blogger spell-check keeps underlining both of his famous names (though it has no problem with "Hussein" -- go figure).
Obama's career up that time may have been "lincolnesque," with a series of small victories, but no real recognition. If you had asked Howard Dean in May of 2004 what he thought of Obama running for president in 2008, he probably would have given one of those cowboy yells he likes so much, and laughed at you.
Realize, Obama has not yet completed one full term in the US Senate. He has done nothing, really. Add to that, he's been campaigning since, it seems, the Truman administration. Yet, here he is, with at least a 33% chance of being our next president. Probably more.
All because a Borg took down his primary opponent. Though there was a somewhat crowded Democratic field, including a billionaire, in the primary, the most viable Dem candidates had probably avoided the election because they saw no future in running against Jack Ryan, a sure thing. Obama was in the right place at the right time. He ran when real candidates didn't want to waste the time, effort, and resources. Then he had no real opponent. He strolled into the US Senate.
There had been another man who had just this much luck. In 1991, the President of the United States had an 80% approval rating. Both sides of congress gave him an ovation when he entered their chambers. He was unbeatable. The best Democratic candidates thought it political suicide, not to mention a waste of money, to run against such a popular president. By the time those ratings started to fall, it was too late to put an organization together. All that were there were a handful of nobodies with nothing to lose but a little bit of someone else's money. Bill Clinton won the presidency simply because he ran. Had George Bush's ratings been closer to 50 than 80, there would have been a real Democrat running, and we never would have taken the little Arkansan seriously. I called that the "Bush gambit." Clinton had an extra stroke of luck when, just four years later, an old Republican relic called in his chips and demanded one shot at the presidency. Maybe 50 republicans could have beaten Clinton. Dole wasn't one of them -- at least the male Dole (though Elizabeth could have won).
I often wonder who engineered the Ryan debacle, and if that person had the 2008 elections in mind. What benefits did Jeri Ryan receive for her opportune victimization? Obviously, it wasn't important to her after her husband left the race. Someone big has engineered Obama's campaign. We may never know who, but it's hard to miss the machinations and perfect timing when you know the whole story.
So if, on January 20, 2009, you see Barack Hussein Obama taking the oath of office, realize that, for the first time in history, American politics has been influenced by aliens from outer space. A Borg woman, Seven of Nine, will have determined our next president.
We will have been assimilated, and resistance was futile.