Triumph Of The Swill

It’s long been said that when a person is under stress, their true nature comes out. Or, as fictional dictator Shan Yu said, “live with a man 40 years, share his house, his meals, speak on every subject. Then tie him up and hold him over the volcano’s edge.And on that day you will finally meet the man.”

Well, Barack Obama must be under a lot of stress, because he is (or, more likely, his people are) looking to pull the same scumbag stunt that guaranteed him cakewalks in two of his prior campaigns: embarrassing your opponent into withdrawing from the race.

When Obama ran for the United States Senate in 2004, he was not the initial favorite. Instead, businessman and longtime Democrat Blair Hull led in the polls. Then reporters started pestering the courts to get his divorce records unsealed. He fought it, but they were released — revealing that his wife had accused him of threatening to kill her, and he was arrested. No charges were ever filed in the matter, but the accusation was enough — Hull was humiliated and withdrew from the race. With Hull gone, Obama won the primary handily.

Then came the general election. The Republican nominee was a guy named Jack Ryan, a man who had become a multimillionaire working for Goldman Sachs. After they went public, he retired and became a teacher in Chicago’s inner city. He also managed to woo and wed actress Jeri Ryan (of Star Trek: Voyager and Boston Public fame); the couple had a son before they divorced in 1999.

Ryan was doing very well in the polls — until reporters decided to pry into his divorce and child custody papers. In those papers, the former Mrs. Ryan had charged that he had taken her to sex clubs in several cities, and pressured her to have sex with him in public there.

The Obama campaign took the high road, and asked that the records not be made an issue. Unfortunately, they did this after numerous Obama staffers kept e-mailing reporters with the latest details on the fight over unsealing the records, urging them to pursue it. In fact, their moral and principled stand was issued a week after a judge ruled that the records would be released.

So that’s the pattern. Find your toughest opponent and sic the press on unsealing private, personal records in the hopes of finding something personally humiliating.

And now they’re at it again.

I can’t track down the actual story (either online or in hard copy), but apparently the National Enquirer is reporting (or going to report) that Sarah Palin had an affair with a now-former business partner of her husband’s.

And now that former partner of Todd Palin’s is rushing to get his divorce records sealed.

So, what does this mean?

To me, it means that there is most likely NOTHING in there embarrassing to Sarah Palin.

As I said, I can’t seem to find the details of the story, but from what I’ve heard, the business partner’s divorce was several years ago.

Now he’s getting the records sealed.

He didn’t try to get them sealed after Palin was named as McCain’s running mate.

Nor when she was elected governor.

Nor when she was running for governor.

He’s doing it today.

What’s been the biggest change in things?

Why, the Enquirer announcing that Palin had had an affair with a “former business partner of her husband’s.”

The logic there is that there may be embarrassing things in those documents about this gentleman, but he never thought it would be of interest to anyone — until the Enquirer published its article.

He’s not acting to protect Palin; if that was his motive, he would have tried to get those records sealed long before. It’s only now, when the National Enquirer (and hordes of other bottom-feeders) seem to be interested in poring over them, that he belatedly realizes he can ask them to be sealed.

But that idea — applying logic to the situation — is asking too much. If there’s even the slightest chance that there might be something salacious in there, thats enough to kick off the rampant speculation and mud-slinging.

And in the end, who benefits?

Why, the same man who benefited with the unsealing of Blair Hull’s divorce records. The same man who benefited from the unsealing of Jack Ryan’s child custody records.

My, what an astonishing coincidence.

Barack Obama has stood for promotions in six elections (primaries and general election for Illinois State Senate in 1995, US representative primary in 2000, US Senate primary and general election in 2004, Democratic presidential primary in 2008) and is on the ballot for president this November.

In that first election, he won the Democratic primary after his supporters kept challenging petition signatures until every single one of his rivals was disqualified. And in his almost monolithically Democratic district, the general election was almost a formality.

He was defeated in his race for the Democratic nomination for the US House in 2000.

As noted, he won the Senate primary and general elections after embarrassing details were revealed from his opponents’ divorces.

He won a bruising primary against fellow Democrats, where his staunchest opponent not only had no divorce records, but her husband’s chronic infidelity is a matter of common knowledge — and ridicule.

Now he’s running against a divorced man who has no more secrets from his tawdry past — McCain’s chronicled them all, in detail, in books. And McCain’s running mate has never been divorced.

But there is the slightest chance she might have been mentioned in someone else’s divorce records, so those better be tracked down and aired far and wide.

As I learned in high school geometry, two points determine a line, three a plane, and four a space. How many points of coincidence must be drawn before we see a pattern emerge?

And at what point do we all say we’re just sick of the whole mess?

I pray this is not the Change we’ve been Hoping for.

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