March 12, 2004
What to make of it? I chose not to comment on this yesterday because it wasn’t clear if it was all just late campaign sliming. Today, there’s good reason to conclude that that’s all it was, but several questions need to be answered before this can be definitively put to rest. One thing is for sure though, this has certainly added yet another disturbing episode to this campaign season. But it’s not over, there’s still the weekend.
Here’s a quick recap of what transpired: for the past few days there were murmurs all across the web that something big was going to drop about Ryan. Then yesterday afternoon, Borling operative Rod McCulloch gave a press conference and released this document [Capitol Fax has since taken the doc down] claiming that there are damning incidents sealed in Ryan’s divorce file. Ryan refused to comment on the allegation and the press reported the incident but gave it little credence.
So what does this all mean? McCulloch claims that he is trying to save his party from nominating a candidate who will get blown out of the water when according to him this story will inevitably surface. A Tribune editorial agrees. But what gets stranger is that just when you are ready to file this as a desperate move to soil Ryan by the Borling camp, Borling comes out to distance himself from McCulloch and forces him to resign. Borling doesn’t dispute the allegation, but only says that he is at fault for not controlling McCulloch.
So now with McCulloch left out to dry, I can only think of two interpretations of his actions: either he is being sacrificed by Borling in a risky and desperate attempt to knock off Ryan, or he is a party loyalist martyr who is acting according to higher authority. Neither explanation is satisfying I think, because Borling is way off the lead and it seems strange that the Republican Party would want to put itself further in the political wilderness with this type of scandal right before the primary. Perhaps some Republicans are hoping that if these allegations are true the Democrats won’t push this issue in the general election for fear of being seen as going negative. The other side might be more skeptical that the story won’t surface. Or maybe McCulloch is being mislead by Soviet spies. So basically whether these allegations turn out to be true or bunk I’m stumped as to what the motivation is for McCulloch. ArchPundit offers some background and thoughts on McCulloch and if you have ideas let me know. Until then, I’ll just sit back and watch until things get sorted out more.
One thing that’s certain is that Ryan must be cursing Hull for making unsealing divorce records a possibility. Before Hull primed the pump, the other Republican candidates were certainly reluctant to go negative and bring up the divorce records issue.