August 8, 2012 by Ish
Star Trek: Voyager is responsible, in part, for our current President. No really!
Jeri Ryan is an American actress best known for her roles as the “de-assimilated” Borg, Seven of Nine, on Star Trek: Voyager. Prior to appearing on that show, she’d had one-off appearances on a dozen or so television shows and a few B-movies. In the years after Voyager went off the air, she’s had supporting roles on two or three other short-lived shows, and one-off appearances on a dozen or so tv shows and a few B-movies. Not super-stardom to be sure, but certainly not a small degree of fame. So, she’s well-known and it’s mostly because of being incredibly hot in those Star Trek jumpsuits.
Now, long before he became our President, circa 2004, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator representing Chicago’s South Side. with some modest accomplishments on his resume. He spearheaded welfare reform in the Illinois statehouse, played a leadership role in enacting certain death penalty reforms, and took the lead in passing a law that required interrogations in murder cases to be videotaped. After an unsuccessfully challenge against Democratic incumbent Bobby Rush in the Congressional primaries of 2000, Obama returned in 2004 to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald. The Democratic primary that year was incredibly crowded, but in an epic victory, Obama emerged from this eight candidate race with 53% of the vote. Overnight this made Obama the new rising star in the national Democratic Party, started speculation about a presidential future.
Yet despite running away with the primary, Obama still had to deal with the Republican candidate in the general election: Jack Ryan. This Ryan was not in fact a Tom Clancy character, but was the ex-husband of actress Jeri Ryan and impressive candidate by any measure. Ryan was attractive, wealthy, and smart as hell: a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Dartmouth and a matching MBA from Harvard Business School and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. He’d made his fortune at Goldman Sachs, retiring with a net worth in the hundreds of millions, Ryan took a gig at inner-city Chicago high school.
But Ryan had a problem -– during the campaign, he was going through a messy divorce from Jeri Ryan, remember how I opened this piece talking about her? Details of Jeri Ryan’s testimony contained lurid details about Ryan forcing his wife perform sexual acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris. Jeri Ryan described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.” These details were toxic to Jack Ryan’s campaign, and he saw his poll numbers plummet – eventually, Republican leaders pressed Ryan to quit the race, fearing he was toxic to the statewide ticket (and perhaps even national races). Republicans, as a general rule, depend a lot on their church-going, morality-minded base… a sex scandal involving a famous actress was not something the GOP wanted.
So, long story short: Ryan bows out, which left the Illinois Republican Party needing to find a candidate to run against Obama. This led to the embarrassment of Alan Keyes moving to Illinois to run. The Chicago Tribune in an editorial, stated that “Mr. Keyes may have noticed a large body of water as he flew into O’Hare. That is called Lake Michigan.” It certainly didn’t help matters that in 2000 Keyes had attacked Hillary Clinton for running for US Senator from New York even though she had never lived there, calling her a carpetbagger. Naturally, Obama won 70% to 27%.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Don’t get me wrong, Obama deserves all the credit for the way he has excited Democratic crowds around the country during his presidential campaign. His performance against the much more powerful and national famous Hillary Clinton in the primary is stunning. His post-primary campaign against McCain was hard-fought and hard-won. So, there is every possibility that he may have beaten Jack Ryan on his own. But, we’ll never know. Just think that the if scandalous testimony of Jeri Ryan had never come to light? Without it, Barack Obama could still be sitting in the Illinois statehouse, planning his next political move…
An alternative reality worthy of a Star Trek episode.