But I have a separate point to make: past history proves Shaheen is wrong.
See, Obama first admitted his drug use in Dreams of My Father, published in 1995.
Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though,
So it was well established when he ran for the open United States Senate seat in 2004. You can be certain the Republican National Senatorial Committee read through his book. And even if they didn't, The Associated Press ran a story about it in March of 2004, before Ryan even dropped out, so they knew about it.
They were very competently run that year (George Allen is much better at running campaigns than at running for elections). Moreover, since George Allen was the chair, we know they weren't shy about making ads to play on racial stereotypes/fears.
And we know the NRSC can make some dynamite racist ads.
Not that that one really worked, either. Ford did significantly better on election day than the polls indicated he'd do, matching Al Gore's 2000 numbers.
And the NRSC had pretty good recruitment that year for open seats/incumbent races. In addition to the 6 seats they picked up and Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, there was Rep. George Nethercutt and millionaires Tim Michel and Pete Coors.
Not close to as good as Schumer's recruitment for 2006, but not bad.
And yet, look at what happened after Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the race due to his penchant for public sex and the Republicans were able to choose a new nominee.
According to Bill Shaheen, the Republicans had a dynamite chance here. They were running against a black guy with a first name coming from Arabic and a last name sounding like the first name of the man who the Bush administration has so far failed to bring to justice. And he'd admitted to drug use!
Especially then, Illinois was no Massachusetts. It was full of ambitious A-list statewide Republican politicians who were waiting for a "great opportunity" like this to manifest itself. There was:
- State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka
- Former Attorney General Jim Ryan
- Former Lieutenant Governor Robert Kustra
- Former Governor Jim Edgar
There were also numerous Republican millionaires in the state who could've run, including Jim Oberweis, Andy McKenna, David McSweeney, and many others
But not only could they not get any of them to run, they couldn't get anyone from the state of Illinois to run. Nobody considered even minimally decent from Illinois felt they had a shot at victory at that point.
They were forced to go with nutjob Alan Keyes of Maryland. Alan Keyes is despised by the Republican party, and for good reason. His presidential runs have been basically to attack the party for not being sufficiently hateful towards gays and women, and he's just generally nuts. Witness his performance in today's presidential debate (shame on the Des Moines Register for letting him in the debate but excluding Dennis Kucinich, who is polling as well as Chris Dodd, at 1%).
Moreover, Keyes hadn't done all that well in (admittedly somewhat more Democratic) Maryland, getting 38% of the vote in 1988 and 29% of the vote in 1992 in Senate races (Mikulski's opponent in 1998 did just as badly, and moderate Republican state Senator E.J. Pipkin got 33% against her in 2004, so Keyes wasn't that bad; Keyes 1988 performance vs. Sarbanes was several points better than that of Republican Congressman Lawrence Hogan in 1982 against him; fellow carpetbagger former Senator Bill Brock managed 40% against him in 1994; the 2000 candidate also did worse than Keyes). Even the very, very strong Michael Steele got only 44% of the vote.
And Obama, of course, demolished him in the general by a (possibly) unprecedented 71-27.
So that leads to 3 possible conclusions.
1. No Republican in Illinois felt it (and his name and everything else about him) was enough to give them a chance at victory.
2. Every single Republican in the state of Illinois tried cocaine, too, so they couldn't use it.
3. There was a vast conspiracy by the Republican party. They were so confident that he'd run for and win the presidential nomination in 2008 that they were willing to sacrifice a Senate seat (and, as it turns out, Senate control right now) in order to use it against him this year and thereby retain the White House.
I'm thinking it's probably #1.