How a 'Star Trek' actress changed the course of history

Jeri_barack_lIf Barack Obama (pictured, right) wins the presidency, he may have the most powerful woman in the pop-culture universe to thank. No, not Oprah; Seven-of-Nine of the Borg collective. On the heels of Obama’s victory in the Iowa caucuses last week (and before his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary last night), the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute reminds us that Obama owes his current high profile in part to Star Trek: Voyager‘s Jeri Ryan (left). Without her (and her apparent violation of Star Trek‘s Prime Directive, the law against meddling in the internal affairs of other civilizations), he might still be a little-known state senator toiling away in Springfield, Illinois.

In 2004, Jack Ryan, the actress’ ex-husband, was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. Then his divorce records became public, including allegations by Jeri that he’d pressured her to have public sex in swingers clubs in various cities. Ryan denied the allegations but dropped out of the race a few days later. The Republicans recruited former MSNBC host Alan Keyes to run in Ryan’s place. Obama defeated him in a landslide, earning himself a U.S. Senate seat and a prominent public platform from which to launch his presidential campaign.

Which just goes to show: the Borg remain all-powerful. Resistance is futile.

addCredit(“Gregg DeGuire/;Soren McCarty/”)

Comments (20 total) Add your comment
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  • Rahul

    Nice use of the Prime Directive in this post, Gary

  • Binky

    Obama was leading Ryan in the polls before Ryan’s messy divorce details showed up.

  • Anna

    I am still bewildered and sad by what happened last night…Obama was supposed to win!!! But yes, that whole Jack Ryan scandal was pretty amusing.

  • mark in nyc

    any reason to put a picture of Jerry Ryan on your website is a good one.

  • MEM

    As Chicago girl who’s been wearing an Obama button since 2002, back when he had no money no organization and ostensibly no shot at winning a senate primary, I’ll remind your readers that his odds of winning the senate election were very good, given the political climate in Illinois, even if he had had a strong opponent. Also, the Republican party botched that election in 100 different ways prior to the scandal. Becoming a rock star after he won? Well, that’s all him. That said: big thanks go out to Jeri for making the journey that much easier!

  • Anonymous

    Uh…. yeah. This post seems a little far fetched to me. Actually, it’s pretty ridiculous.

  • kel

    Anonymous, don’t take things so seriously. You’re reading an entertainment website. Here’s a new phrase for you -tongue in cheek. Look it up.

  • Andie

    I’m from Chicago, I remember that Jack Ryan had a pretty strong campaign. His ads were everywhere and I think he was leading Obama before the divorce stuff came out. I’m glad it did. And I’m glad they picked Alan Keyes to replace Ryan…there was no way he was going to beat Obama.

  • Winona

    Another Chicagoland poster here, and yes, the Republican side of that race was a mess anyway – and really, what does it say about the Republican party in Illinois when the best candidate they can come up with on short notice is ALAN KEYS?!?!

  • 2Cents the Politico

    Sad but very true. As a girl from the Southside, I too remember the Obama the early years ( oh wait that’s was like two years agao) and that’s why I am Hillary girl.

  • TheBookPolice

    Also goes to show you: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Don’t pressure your already-hot wife to have public sex. She will leave your ass.

  • Broadway Baby

    Oh those Borg have no sense of humor

  • lola

    Marvelously convoluted.
    –read my blog at

  • orville

    Another Chicagoland poster here. I completely forgot about this. Ryan did have a pretty strong campaign going before this scandal hit. Obama should, at the very least, send her some flowers when she has her baby in a few months.

  • Cynthia

    Obama was already ahead of Ryan even before the allegations. Finding out the GOP candidate was superkinky couldn’t have hurt his campaign, though IMHO Ryan really dug his own grave when he tried to explain that he was there with his wife, so, of course, that makes it okay with God. Yeah, the Yahweh of the Old Testament is totally down with sex clubs.

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