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[Richard Painter, guest-blogging, March 24, 2009 at 2:46pm] Trackbacks
Ryan:

One commentator here reports that the divorce papers for 2004 GOP Senate candidate Ryan mentioned the possibility of (i) public sex in a Paris bar, and (ii) a threesome with the ex-wife and with another woman.

I am not sure what is meant by a threesome, but unless this refers to a three-person prayer meeting or something of the sort, this is enough to blow the election downstate. Blow the election downstate and the GOP is dead in the water. In politics appearances count and the assumption that divorce papers under seal will remain under seal is naive. It sounds to me as if the GOP blew that Senate election fair and square and Obama won it fair and square.

Another point --- the nominees who have been problems have not been from the President's Chicago inner circle but other Democratic party stalwarts, many of whom did not work for his campaign until he got the nomination. Contrast this to the problems with the inner circles of Nixon, Carter (remember Bert Lance!) and Clinton and other presidents who brought to Washington some people from their home states who should have stayed home.

Calderon:
I'm honored to have one of my posts obliquely mentioned by a VC member.

And for what it's worth, I agree that the GOP blew the election, based on its perceptions of the reactions from GOP members in Illinois. As everyone in Illinois knows, Senate seats are f'ing valuable. Ryan's withdrawal that late in the contest handed the Senate seat to Obama.

As a libertarian, I thought at the time that forcing Jack Ryan to withdraw and gift-wrapping the Senate seat for Obama was foolish. Jack Ryan hadn't anything that severe, had not forced his ex-wife to do anything she didn't want, but rather asked her to participate in two pretty common sexual fantasies.

To get to the semi-intellectual part of the post, whether the Democrats won the seat "fair and square" (F&S) depends on what counts as fair in politics. Presumably there are some tactics that people would not consider F&S wins in politics. For example, many liberals criticze political messages that seem to rely on racism to win, such as Helms' old affirmative action ad, the Willie Horton ad, or the more recent Harold Ford ads. Presumably, they wouldn't think wins that depending on that allegedly racists politicking were F&S. More on point, when Republicans attacked Clinton for his own sexual escapades (rather than his policies), were those F&S attacks? There were plenty of Democrats and supporters who argued at the time that Clinton's adultery was not a reason for kicking him out of office or frustrating his legislation.

Presumably we want politicians who have "good" policy ideas (though I'm sure everyone defines good differently), is effective at getting those ideas passed into law, is honest and resists corruption, etc. I did not think at the time that Jack Ryan's requests to his wife reflected on his abilities as a politician, and I still don't. Forcing him to withdraw from the election was a self-inflicted GOP wound.
3.24.2009 3:12pm
OrinKerr:
this is enough to blow the election downstate.

Is that what they're calling it these days?
3.24.2009 3:13pm
Federal Dog:
Is it really "fair and square" to violate a court order sealing court documents? If so, what else is now "fair and square?"

Given the premise (violation of an express court order being declared a fair and accepted campaign practice), it might be easier to state what now is not "fair and square."
3.24.2009 3:18pm
Calderon:
Federal Dog said


Is it really "fair and square" to violate a court order sealing court documents? If so, what else is now "fair and square?"


There was no violation of a court order. A journalist who supported Obama went to the court that had presided over the divorce (which I believe was a California court, not Illinois) and moved for the divorce papers to be unsealed. The court agreed and unsealed the papers.
3.24.2009 3:22pm
Dave N (mail):
Ryan
When doing a headline about Illinois scandals, you have to be more specific.

On a more serious note, I want to express my appreciation to Professor Painter. His posts have all been insightful and a pleasure both to read and contemplate.
3.24.2009 3:27pm
John D (mail):
The Wikipedia article on Jack Ryan states that:
In May 2004, a statewide Chicago Tribune poll found Ryan trailing Obama 52% to 30%

This was before the release of the papers. Further, the article makes it clear the couple consented to the release of the papers after
the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate, sought to have the records released.

I know there are going to be people on the comments who are happy to equate Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV with Obama operatives. It's more likely that the media smelled a juicy scandal of sexy TV star and her wealthy political candidate ex-husband. Fire up the presses! We have papers to sell here!

Sure, the release of the divorce papers was the death knell for Ryan's campaign. By the time he dropped out, anyone would have trouble beating Obama's momentum.

It's hard to blame Obama or his "operatives" for this. I think the basic rule is that if you're going to be running for the socially conservative party, you do not attempt to get back at your wife's lack of fidelity by bringing her to sex clubs to have sex with other people. No sex clubs, and Ryan could have run against Hollywood.
3.24.2009 3:28pm
Chuck C:
Divorce proceedings sealed by the interested parties: Fair game, the public has a right to know, etc

Birth Certificate, an Official Public Document: Unfair, privacy, nothing to see here, move along.
3.24.2009 3:28pm
wfjag:
Let's see -- GOP candidate is married to Jeri Ryan -- known for 7 of 9 on Star Trek Voyager, Boston Legal and being a former Maxim top 100 Sexist Women in America -- and who is also known to have a special needs son to whom she is devoted and for whom and for groups trying to address the needs of SPEC ED students she has done a lot of publicity appearances and raised money. GOP candidate turns out to be a pervert.

Dem candidate is a very well educated, nice looking, articulate black man (but, not too black, his mother was from Kansas) who has attractive (and very well educated) wife, and a couple of small daughters, and attends church regularly. He has little in the way of a voting record, and although he's from Chicago, he isn't connected directly to any corruption, and there are no scandles involving him.

When GOP candidate's personal life comes out, GOP brings in black candidate who was formerly a US Representative in another state.

It sounds to me as if the GOP blew that Senate election

hardly does justice to what the GOP did.

It can be fairly said that every Dem party candidate has 2 strong allies trying to get the Dem candidate elected in any election -- the DNC and the RNC.
3.24.2009 3:30pm
Dave N (mail):
wfjag,

Alan Keyes was never elected to Congress anywhere. His supporters refer to him as "Ambassador Keyes" because he did serve as Ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council.

I will stipulate, however, that Alan Keyes is a nut.
3.24.2009 3:42pm
The Unbeliever:
It can be fairly said that every Dem party candidate has 2 strong allies trying to get the Dem candidate elected in any election -- the DNC and the RNC.
10 years from now, incoming RNC chairmen will receive a standard booklet entitled "How NOT To Run A Campaign". It will contain 10 case studies, and 8 of them will be drawn from the last 4 years through the next 4 years.

Back on point:
the nominees who have been problems have not been from the President's Chicago inner circle but other Democratic party stalwarts, many of whom did not work for his campaign until he got the nomination.
Although this is true, it's worth noting this may be because many of his Chicago inner circle famously got thrown under the bus during the campaign itself. It is not surprising that he is pulling in Democratic party faithful from outside his own pool of connections; what is surprising is how often he still needs to double back and toss them out.

(Or not so surprising, depending on how charitably you view Democrats in general.)
3.24.2009 3:43pm
Strict:

Divorce proceedings sealed by the interested parties: Fair game, the public has a right to know, etc

Birth Certificate, an Official Public Document: Unfair, privacy, nothing to see here, move along.


Chuck,

1. From wikipedia: "On March 29, 2004, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that several of the Ryans' divorce records should be opened to the public, and ruled that a court-appointed referee would later decide which custody files should remain sealed to protect the interests of Ryan's young child.[7] The following week, on April 2, 2004, Barack Obama formally established his position about the Ryans' soon-to-be-released divorce records, and called on Democrats not to inject them into the campaign."

2. The State of Hawaii officially verified that Obama was born in Hawaii. State law there says that only family members can access birth certificates. There was no argument about privacy and unfairness. It's simply the law - you don't get to see his birth certificate, sorry. Nor do you get to see his DNA sequencing that proves he's actually human. Nor do you get to see his genitals.

It is funny to see conservatives defending Jack Ryan, who forced his wife to go to sex clubs. When she became sick in one of them at the scene of people having sex everywhere, he told her that it wasn't very sexy when she cried.

lol

What a stand-up guy! Much nicer than this foreign spy called OBAMA.
3.24.2009 4:01pm
GMS:
This whole post was just a gag to get the word "blow" in there as many times as possible, right?
3.24.2009 4:17pm
wfjag:
I stand corrected Dave.

Unbeliever -- RNC Chairmen already get that book. However, as anyone who has had young children understands -- when giving directions, the word "Not" does Not register. So, campaigns are run that way.

And, for those interested in Gov. Ryan's life since his divorce papers were unsealed:

George Ryan Trial:
www.suntimes.com/news/georgeryantrial/index.html

Reads like a cheap novel. Suggestions on who should play George in the movie? I nominate Jeri to play herself in the movie.
3.24.2009 4:19pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Calderon - generally agreed, but favorite point of clarification by me. Democrats claimed that Republicans were objecting to Clinton's behavior because of the sex, but everyone I read on the right was incensed about the lying and obstructing justice. One is free to secretly believe that Republicans really cared about the sex and only hid behind the other charges, but to actually claim that would require a fair bit of evidence, most of which involves mind-reading. It became an article of faith at the time that it was the Right attacking him about the sex, but I saw much more of the opposite - Democrats defending him because it was only about sex and neglecting to address the other issues.

I'm not likely to change anyone's mind about that at this point, but felt it needs to be repeated whenever that CW re-emerges. It was a calculated campaign by Clinton supporters to make it appear to be "just about sex." They appear to have succeeded.

Additionally - Strict: I didn't see anyone defending Ryan in the comments. Thanks for providing mild evidence for my previous point.
3.24.2009 4:23pm
Dave N (mail):
wfjag,

George and Jack Ryan are two different people--not even related, in fact. Indeed, BEFORE the sex scandal, the Jack Ryan Campaign was doing everything in its power to remind people that he and the Governor were two different people.
3.24.2009 4:30pm
alkali (mail):
wfjag: Former Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan -- the one that was married to Jeri -- and former Illinois governor George Ryan are two different people.

For what it is worth, I understand that Jack Ryan has done quite a lot of good work for the public, and it is a shame that he and his ex-wife were subjected to all that, the rightness or wrongness of his conduct aside.
3.24.2009 4:32pm
The Unbeliever:
"The following week, on April 2, 2004, Barack Obama formally established his position about the Ryans' soon-to-be-released divorce records, and called on Democrats not to inject them into the campaign."
Yes, and if you lived in Chicago at the time and read the papers or watched the newscasts, you would have seen how few people bought that fig leaf covering.
It is funny to see conservatives defending Jack Ryan, who forced his wife to go to sex clubs.
No one is "defending" Jack Ryan, but it's worth noting your selective quoting of Wikipedia left out the common sentiment about the matter:
these are allegations made in a divorce hearing, and we all know people tend to say things that aren't necessarily true in divorce proceedings when there is money involved and custody of children involved
wfjag--you made a mistake. Jack Ryan is the one who was married to Jeri, George Ryan was the governor who was indicted. As Dave N noted above, "when doing a headline about Illinois scandals, you have to be more specific" than just saying "Ryan".

(Synchronicity note--George Ryan's successor was shuffled out of office for the same kind of scandal: selling political appointments, specifically the seat Barak Obama won when Ryan was kicked out. Ain't it a small world, etc.)
3.24.2009 4:34pm
Bill Kilgore:
You Republican supporters are funny. Don't you know that treating your wife poorly is simply unacceptable for a politician. Democrats would never stand for the election of someone who did things like that. That's why, subsequent to Ryan, Democrat supporters have steadfastly demanded the release of all sealed custody hearings, irrespective of whether or not all parties request that they remain sealed.

Oh and wfjag- Governor Ryan didn't have divorce papers unsealed. Of course, neither did Jack Ryan, but you knew that already.
3.24.2009 4:40pm
John D (mail):
Bill Kilgore:
You Republican supporters are funny. Don't you know that treating your wife poorly is simply unacceptable for a politician. Democrats would never stand for the election of someone who did things like that. That's why, subsequent to Ryan, Democrat supporters have steadfastly demanded the release of all sealed custody hearings, irrespective of whether or not all parties request that they remain sealed.


A think of lot Democrats might not vote for someone who tried to pressure his wife into sex with strangers. For us Democrats, the disturbing word is pressure, not sex.

If they had consensual threesomes, my thought would be, "oh, how nice, now please don't tell me about it." Like many liberals I couple permissiveness with not wanting to know.
3.24.2009 5:01pm
BGates:
For us Democrats, the disturbing word is pressure

Unfortunately, there's always going to be a possibility of coercion in the relationship between a man and his 35 year old glamorous superstar wife. That's why sexual relationships are best between equals, like governor-state employee or President of the United States-chubby 22 year old intern.
3.24.2009 5:11pm
wfjag:
ALLCON: My apologies for mixing up George and Jack Ryan. I thought that "Jack Ryan" was just a bad fictional character played in the movies by Alex Baldwin and Harrison Ford. I didn't realize that in Illinois, politics imitates art. So, do you think that Alex Baldwin would be a good choice for the other Jack Ryan in the movie?
3.24.2009 5:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It is funny to see conservatives defending Jack Ryan, who forced his wife to go to sex clubs.
"forced"?
3.24.2009 5:24pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
wfjag:

On the plus side, as a parent, I thought this was an excellent line: However, as anyone who has had young children understands -- when giving directions, the word "Not" does Not register.
3.24.2009 5:47pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Jack and Jeri Ryan did not consent to having the divorce records released. They both fought in court against the Chicago Tribune and WLS's motion, and lost. Wicrapedia is wrong once again.

Nick
3.24.2009 5:52pm
Mark in Colorado:
Re: Calderon @ 3:22 - "A journalist who supported Obama...."

Why repeat yourself?
3.24.2009 6:05pm
whit:
this guy got his wife to agree to a threesome with another woman?

sounds like a very persuasive guy who knows how to broker a deal, and managed to fulfill Every Man's Fantasy (tm).

and this is a NEGATIVE?
3.24.2009 6:08pm
Dave N (mail):
So, do you think that Alex Baldwin would be a good choice for the other Jack Ryan in the movie
Dunno, Harrison Ford might be a contender, too. Ford has more personal experience with actual divorces (2 to Baldwin's 1), though Baldwin's divorce (with Kim Basinger) was much more contentious.

On the other hand, to the extent the real Jack Ryan is a jerk, Baldwin beats Ford hands-down in that category.
3.24.2009 6:10pm
Calderon:
AVI -- I agree with you re Clinton. I think there's a difference between his having consensual sex* with other women who were not his wife, and then lying about it while under oath in a court proceeding. You're right that many of his supporters only wanted to focus on the sex while ignoring the perjury.

* Of course, some women (Kathleen Willey) made allegations that the sex wasn't consensual. If those allegations were true, that would be a whole kettle of fish.
3.24.2009 6:19pm
Calderon:
AVI -- I agree with you re Clinton. I think there's a difference between his having consensual sex* with other women who were not his wife, and then lying about it while under oath in a court proceeding. You're right that many of his supporters only wanted to focus on the sex while ignoring the perjury.

* Of course, some women (Kathleen Willey) made allegations that the sex wasn't consensual. If those allegations were true, that would be a whole kettle of fish.
3.24.2009 6:19pm
Mark in Colorado:
Kathleen Willey only alledged a pass at her. The name you really want is Juanita Broaddrick.
3.24.2009 6:24pm
Sara:
2004...Judge Schnider decides that unsealing the Ryan divorce records was in the public interest

Then-Gov. Gray Davis appointed Schnider, a Democrat, to the Superior Court in 2002, and the jurist later served as supervising judge of the family law departments from 2005 until the beginning of this year.

2004...did any newspapers demand...then actually receive and publish...Kerry's sealed divorce records?
3.24.2009 7:42pm
another snark:
As someone at the time said (sorry, I forget who), sure, wanting to have people watch in a club may be weird, but it still made Ryan the first politician to have a scandal over wanting to have sex with his own wife.
3.24.2009 8:02pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
2004...did any newspapers demand...then actually receive and publish...Kerry's sealed divorce records?

John F. Kerry's marriage didn't just end in a divorce, it was formally annulled.

I wonder how his daughters felt when Kerry declared to the Catholic Church that they were bastards?
3.24.2009 9:00pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
One commentator here reports that the divorce papers for 2004 GOP Senate candidate Ryan mentioned the possibility of (i) public sex in a Paris bar, and (ii) a threesome with the ex-wife and with another woman.

If I recall correctly, this information was not contained in the Ryans' divorce papers, but in the proceedings for their child custody case, which had been sealed to prevent harm to their developmentally disabled son.
3.24.2009 9:07pm
Chuck C:
Mike G:"I wonder how his daughters felt when Kerry declared to the Catholic Church that they were bastards?"

The Catholic Church declared no such thing:
Can. 1137 The children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage are legitimate.

A "putative marriage" is one believed to be valid at the time but later proved to have been invalid, and thus annulled.
3.24.2009 9:20pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Interesting. Jeri Ryan displays more flesh in front of cameras than most strip club performers but she has the vapors if her husband propositions her. So the crime here -- assuming the allegations were true -- is that Jack Ryan wanted to have sex with his wife … and she refused.
He was not accused of having sex with an intern or an underage male congressional page -- in fact he was not accused of having sex at all. This is one of several Republican sex scandals where no sex actually took place. He was accused of wanting to have sex with his wife and taking "no" for an answer.

The other non-sex sex scandal that I recall was Mark Foley who was driven from office not for having sex with male pages -- that was Gary Studds - but for sending overly friendly e-mails. What's amusing is that Studds was not labeled a sexual predator, but according to NPR was a "congressional pioneer."

That's the problem with Republican sex scandals; unlike Democrat sex which actually leave semen stains on dresses, Republican sex scandals don't even get to the emission stage.
3.24.2009 9:50pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
I'm curious why no newspaper ever tried to open Ted Kennedy's divorce papers. Now THERE's some juicy bits. Especially the threesome with Chris Dodd.
3.24.2009 9:52pm
NickM (mail) (www):
There was a previous politician who got in a sex scandal involving sex with his own wife. Congressman John Jenrette (D-SC) and his wife Rita were caught having sex in public - on the Capitol steps.

Nick
3.24.2009 11:28pm
tsotha:
Kathleen Willey only alledged a pass at her. The name you really want is Juanita Broaddrick.

That's half true. Willey alleged Clinton groped her, which is sexual assault.
3.25.2009 12:30am
tsotha:
Interesting. Jeri Ryan displays more flesh in front of cameras than most strip club performers but she has the vapors if her husband propositions her. So the crime here -- assuming the allegations were true -- is that Jack Ryan wanted to have sex with his wife … and she refused.

Pressuring your wife to have sex and pressuring your wife to have a threesome with you and another woman are two totally different things. At least that's what my female acquaintances tell me.
3.25.2009 12:33am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
If your female acquaintances believe your requests for sex are pressure as opposed to pleasure you may want to work on your technique. Of course you may be forgiven for thinking that if your significant other strips in front of the cameras she's not uptight about a little sexual adventure. When they say "no" do you continue to "pressure" them?

I'm still amused by outrage expressed by the "don't intrude into my bedroom you sex Nazis" Liberals about the sexual scandals of Republicans in which no sex actually took place.
3.25.2009 7:03am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
The issue of Jeri Ryan's love life is somewhat beside the point, no? What's interesting about Obama's rise in the political world is that more than one of his opponents had a nasty divorce and the records were opened just in time for the election. And of course the "Clean One" will deny involvement and will even denounce such scurrilous prying even as his opponents are destroyed. If no one sees a pattern here they are not connecting the dots.

It's become such a natural campaign strategy that it was attempted against Sarah Palin. Barack Obama was running for office so someone's divorce records had to be unearthed. Problem was, she had not been divorced. So reporters were directed to dig though the divorce records of Scott Richter who was a former business partner of Palin's husband. The allegation was made that Richter and Sarah Palin had an affair. Sadly for the reporters after the divorce records were unsealed there was no mention of Palin and Richter's wife denied that they had had an affair.

Poor Obama, no help from the divorce files, so other smears were developed. How about baby Trig was not hers? She was a Christian? She censored books? She could see Russia from her house? She was a ditz? She would give the Russians a RESET button with the word misspelled? She is so stupid that she would give the British Prime Minister a set of CDs that don't work on British players?

I'm sure glad we dodged the bullet and that everything is under control. Meanwhile we have to solve our financial crisis by nationalizing health care. Strangely enough, England which has nationalized health care appears to be in worse economic shape than we are. I'm sure there's a connection there if we can only find the right divorce records.
3.25.2009 7:45am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Richard,

You state that:

the nominees who have been problems have not been from the President's Chicago inner circle


The people who stayed home include Blago, Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko (he may be tied up for a while), and similar people who are highly regarded in the community. I can see why he would not bring them to Washington, can't you?
3.25.2009 7:52am
FedkatheConvict:
One name that has not been mentioned is Blair Hull. He was leading Obama for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate when Obama's campaign leaked unfounded rumors about domestic violence.

The same pattern was repeated with Jack Ryan and the common denominator was David Axelrod who used the resources of his former employer, the Chicago Tribune, to smear Obama's opponents.

And you can even go further back to Obama's initial race for the State Senate when he used petition challenges to disqualify FOUR opponents, including the incumbent state senator Alice Palmer.

It appears that after the humiliating trouncing Obama received from Bobby Rush when he attempted to run for a House seat, his camp decided they would do whatever it took to win subsequent elections.

And Moneyrunner43 is exactly right; the Ryan allegations were in the custody files, not the divorce files.
3.25.2009 8:56am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
How can there be a successful, honest pol from Illinois?
If he's honest, he'd be ratting out his corrupt buddies and the machine would let him go nowhere.
The successful guys managed by having really, really big blinders on.
3.25.2009 10:49am
Yossarian:
Any candidate who could convince his ex-wife/Maxim 100 to pitch a three-ball deserves our vote. We don't want our elected officials to have to resort to prostitutes, do we?
3.25.2009 12:57pm
Arr-Squared (mail):
"I am not sure what is meant by a threesome"

This can't be true. Not in 2009.
3.25.2009 1:16pm
Dave R (mail):
I am not sure what is meant by a threesome, but...

But you get the gist well enough to be sure to repeat the charge in a public forum.

...the assumption that divorce papers under seal will remain under seal is naive.

I agree that counting on the rule of law in these times is somewhat naive. Nevertheless, I cannot believe that the two quoted statements are made in good faith rather than partisan apologetics.
3.25.2009 2:06pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
It's not clear that Obama has a "Chicago circle". During his state and U.S. Senate terms, he kept his distance from the local "players". (Rezko seems to be the big exception.) He didn't bother them, and they didn't bother him. As a state Senator, he was noted for voting Present.

Clinton certainly had problems with his Arkansas cronies, but he had just as many with his other cronies.

Nixon had cronies, but none to speak of were from California.

I think that to have a pack of local cronies, a President has to have been a career local politician, probably a governor. Clinton was, Truman was, Nixon wasn't, Carter was, Reagan wasn't. Kennedy had an entourage, but for different reasons. Johnson had some Texas cronies, IIRC. Ike, obviously, had no hometown cronies; neither did FDR.

Bush I could have had Texas cronies: he had a long career in business there, and in political activity. But he didn't. AFAIK Bush II had few Texas cronies. Harriet Miers and Karl Rove are the only ones I can think of.
3.25.2009 10:54pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Dave R:


I cannot believe that the two quoted statements are made in good faith rather than partisan apologetics.


It seems that another member of a Republican administration has "grown." Perhaps we have a plea for a job in the new administration? The new David Gergen?

Think of this site as an offshoot of Monster.com
3.26.2009 6:59am

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