Obama’s signature move: Unsealing private records
Mitt Romney presents one enormous problem for Barack Obama’s
campaign: No divorce records. That’s why the media are so hot to get
their hands on Romney’s tax records for the past 25 years. They need
something to “pick through, distort and lie about” — as the Republican
Obama’s usual campaign method, used in 100 percent of his races, has been to pry into the private records of his opponents.
Democrats aren’t going to find any personal dirt on the clean-cut
Mormon, so they need complicated tax filings going back decades in order
to create the illusion of scandal out of boring financial records.
Romney has already released his 2010 tax return and is about to
release his 2011 return. After all the huffing and puffing by the media
demanding those returns, the follow-up story vanished remarkably quickly
when the only thing the return showed was that Romney pays millions of
dollars in taxes and gives a lot of money to charity.
Let’s take a romp down memory lane and review the typical Obama
campaign strategy. Obama became a U.S. senator only by virtue of David
Axelrod’s former employer, the Chicago Tribune, ripping open the sealed
divorce records of Obama’s two principal opponents.
One month before the 2004 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate,
Obama was down in the polls, about to lose to Blair Hull, a
multimillionaire securities trader. But then the Chicago Tribune leaked
the claim that Hull’s second ex-wife, Brenda Sexton, had sought an order
of protection against him during their 1998 divorce proceedings.
Those records were under seal, but as The New York Times noted: “The
Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in
print that the Obama camp had ‘worked aggressively behind the scenes’ to
push the story.” Many people said Axelrod had “an even more significant
role — that he leaked the initial story.”
Both Hull and his ex-wife opposed releasing their sealed divorce
records, but they finally relented in response to the media’s hysteria —
18 days before the primary. Hull was forced to spend four minutes of a
debate detailing the abuse allegation in his divorce papers, explaining
that his ex-wife “kicked me in the leg and I hit her shin to try to get
her to not continue to kick me.”
After having held a substantial lead just a month before the primary,
Hull’s campaign collapsed with the chatter about his divorce. Obama
sailed to the front of the pack and won the primary. Hull finished third
with 10 percent of the vote.
As luck would have it, Obama’s opponent in the general election had
also been divorced! Jack Ryan was tall, handsome, Catholic — and shared a
name with one of Harrison Ford’s most popular onscreen characters! He
went to Dartmouth, Harvard Law and Harvard Business School, made
hundreds of millions of dollars as a partner at Goldman Sachs, and then,
in his early 40s, left investment banking to teach at an inner city
school on the South Side of Chicago.
Ryan would have walloped Obama in the Senate race. But at the request
of — again — the Chicago Tribune, California Judge Robert Schnider
unsealed the custody papers in Ryan’s divorce five years earlier from
Hollywood starlet Jeri Lynn Ryan, the bombshell Borg on “Star Trek:
Jack Ryan had released his tax records. He had released his divorce
records. But both he and his ex-wife sought to keep the custody records
under seal to protect their son.
Amid the 400 pages of filings from the custody case, Jack Ryan
claimed that his wife had had an affair, and she counterclaimed with the
allegation that he had taken her to “sex clubs” in Paris, New York and
New Orleans, which drove her to fall in love with another man.
(Republicans: If you plan a career in public office, please avoid marrying a wacko.)
Ryan had vehemently denied her allegations at the time, but it didn’t
matter. The sex club allegations aired on “Entertainment Tonight,” “NBC
Nightly News,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay
Leno,” and NBC’s “Today” show. CNN covered the story like it was the
first moon landing.
(Interestingly, international papers also were ablaze with the story —
the same newspapers that were supposed to be so bored with American
sexual mores during Bill Clinton’s sex scandal.)
Four days after Judge Schnider unsealed the custody records, Ryan
dropped out of the race for the horror of (allegedly) propositioning his
own wife and then taking “no” for an answer.
Alan Keyes stepped in as a last-minute Republican candidate.
And that’s how Obama became a U.S. senator. He destroyed both his
Democratic primary opponent and his Republican general election opponent
with salacious allegations about their personal lives taken from
“sealed” court records.
Obama’s team delved into Sarah Palin’s marriage and spread rumors of
John McCain’s alleged affair in 2008 and they smeared Herman Cain in
2011 with hazy sexual harassment allegations all emanating from David
Axelrod’s pals in Chicago.
It’s almost like a serial killer’s signature. Unsealed personal
records have been released to the press. Obama must be running for
So you can see what a pickle the Obama campaign is in having to run
against a Dudley Do-Right, non-drinking, non-smoking, God-fearing,
happily married Mormon.
They’ve got to get their hands on thousands of pages of Romney’s tax
filings so that the media can — as Romney says — lie about them. It will
be interesting to see if Obama can pick the lock of the famously
See Votes by State
News & Politics