If he wins the presidency later this year, Obama will owe no small debt of gratitude to the Republican Party. I'm not talking about Bush and the war, although Bush's unpopularity has certainly helped all Democrats. I'm talking about Illinois Republicans, including federal inmate #16627-424, former Illinois Governor George Ryan.
Let's go back to 2004, when Obama won the senate seat vacated by former Illinois Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald. Some may remember that Fitzgerald decided not to seek a second term because he lacked the support of key Republican players in Illinois. Fitzgerald, a Republican who actually cared about excessive government spending, battled fellow Republicans on a couple of big issues. State party muckity-mucks were so put off by Fitzgerald's independence, that they refused to support him for a second term. Without the support of top Illinois Republicans, Fitzgerald could not gain the support of the national party. With the odds impossibly stacked against his reelection, Fitzgerald decided against seeking another term.
Republicans ran Jack Ryan instead, but after a sex scandal associated with his divorce from his actress-wife, Jeri Ryan, came to light, Ryan was forced to drop out of the race. Next bad move, Republicans let the ridiculous, carpetbagger Alan Keyes run against Obama. Obama trounced the unelectable Keyes.
There is no way that State Senator Obama could have successfully launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination without the Republican debacle that began when the party dumped the incumbent Republican Senator Fitzgerald.