Wednesday, November 05, 2008

REPRISE: EXCLUSIVE: Obama can thank a Kentuckian for his viability as a presidential candidate

If Barack Obama is elected president, Kentucky will have played a direct role in that historic election.

Even if Hillary Clinton wins this month's Democrat primary; even if John McCain wins Kentucky this fall and gets our state's electoral votes, Kentucky will have had a direct role in Obama's rise to the presidency.

For if not for the allegations made by a Kentuckian in an Illinois divorce case, Obama might never have been elected to the U.S. Senate and thus be in a position to run for the presidency.

Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 and is just past the midway point of his first term. Prior to that he had been a state legislator in Illinois.

During the 2004 election, Obama was originally pitted against Republican opponent Jack Ryan. However, Ryan dropped out of the race after allegations made against him by his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, in their divorce case were made public against the wishes of both parties and despite a previous court order sealing them.

Jeri Ryan was an Army brat, born in Germany, whose family eventually settled in McCracken County. She graduated from Lone Oak High School near Paducah and went to Northwestern University in Illinois. Her marriage to Jack Ryan lasted only a few years, and when they divorced she made some salacious allegations against him. Those divorce records were sealed at the request of both Ryans and at the order of a judge.

Those divorce records became a point of contention in the Ryan-Obama Senate race, and a judge eventually ordered them released over the objections of Jeri and Jack Ryan and contrary to the initial judge's order sealing them. The divorce records proved embarrassing to Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the Senate race amidst pressure from the Illinois GOP apparatus. The Illinois party eventually recruited Alan Keyes to move there and take Ryan's place on the ballot, and Keyes was later trounced by Obama in the general election.

If not for Jeri Ryan's explosive (and some say possibly untrue) allegations against her ex-husband in their divorce case, and if those records had remain sealed as the Ryans had wished, then Barack Obama may never have been elected to the United States Senate. He would have remained, in the words of talk show host and Landmark Legal Foundation guru Mark Levin, "a back-bencher in the Illinois state legislature" and would not have the stature of a U.S. senator to be a viable presidential candidate.

So, no matter how Kentucky votes in the primary or general elections, if Obama is elected president, then the state -- or at least someone from here -- will have played a major role in that landmark event.

If Obama wins, he owes Lone Oak High graduate Jeri Ryan big-time.

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