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Friday, February 29, 2008

John McCain: Not a Natural Born Citizen?

(Editor's note: The Clinton-Obama update will have to wait until next week, thanks to an interesting story about McCain's eligibility for the Presidency. Since when do I pass up a chance to talk about American history?)

Just as in scores of other legal un-precedents in this country's history, John McCain's temporary tryst with the U.S. Constitution is yet another instance of our founding fathers' ambiguous lawmaking. Thanks to McCain's birth location - the American controlled Panama Canal Zone - it seems as if everyone is asking the same two questions. What does natural born citizen mean? And is McCain one?

The second one is a lot easier than the first. Of course John McCain is a natural born citizen. If you are in the U.S. Embassy or on an American base, it is considered U.S. soil. The story, as a whole, is a non-issue. Yet, unlike the irresponsible reporting of the Vicki Iseman fiasco, this New York Times Story is actually worthy of print.

The answer to the first question - the question of natural born citizenship - is not yet finalized. There has never been an amendment, law, bill, proposal, or judicial decision regarding the term. Perhaps it is not too important, as being a natural born citizen is one of three qualifications to be President of the United States. Maybe if it was the only qualification...

The print and televised media have been quick to point out modern examples of candidates who did not fit neatly into the natural born citizen mold. These examples include Barry Goldwater (Born in the Arizona territory in 1909 before it became part of the Union), Lowell Weicker (born in Paris to American parents), and George Romney (born to American parents on a Mormon colony in Mexico).

The examples no one seems to be point out are those of the first seven United States Presidents (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, JQ Adams, and Jackson), the ninth (WH Harrison) and the founding father who could not run, Alexander Hamilton.

Of the first nine Presidents, only the eighth, Martin Van Buren, was born after the Declaration of Independence. The others were born before July 1776. Therefore, they were born as British citizens.

Of course, I am not arguing that they were ineligible. If that were the case, then there would be no one qualified to be President until the 19th century. What I want to know is why Alexander Hamilton, who was born in British controlled Nevis in the Caribbean, could not run, yet we now expect those born on American soil in foreign lands (McCain) to be eligible. Make no mistake, I think McCain should be eligible, but Alexander Hamilton should have been, too.

Hamilton was born British, just like those eight Presidents. Hamilton was an American during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, just like those eight Presidents. Hamilton lived in America since well before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, just like those eight Presidents. What's more is that Hamilton had as much to do with independence and American Government as any other founding father, save Washington. Alexander Hamilton was American to the core. He's on the ten-dollar bill!

Yet he was ineligible, because he was born somewhere that was not an original colony in 1776. (I wonder if, like Goldwater in Arizona, he could become eligible if the U.S. were to ever annex Nevis, however posthumously.)

I bet Jefferson and Madison were behind this...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Quick Hits on Presidential Politics

After a much needed week off, I'm back to recap the week that was.

Love Triangle: Conservatives, John McCain, and Vicki Iseman
Famously, the New York Times "broke" a story last week that implicated John McCain as having improper romantic relations with Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist, before his run at the 2000 Republican nomination. The story was published with anonymous sources. A hard connection was never made. McCain blasted the story as disingenuous and bad journalism, which it was. Eventually even the New York Times Ombudsmen considered the story unfair and irresponsible.

Ultimately, the questionable relationship was lost as a story and no one is talking about it anymore. However, the process story had two tangible effects, both positive for McCain.

1. Conservatives had two sides to choose when the story hit. They could defend the New York Times or they could defend John McCain. After all their big talk about McCain being a Republican In Name Only, they took his side against their arch enemy of the print industry. From politico.com: "Some of the loudest voices of the modern conservative movement -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Gary Bauer, CBN.org -- flogged the Times while hardly pausing to consider the underlying facts of the story. Immediately, almost reflexively, these commentators assumed the worst motives and behavior by The Times and accepted McCain’s bland yet broad denials." It was one of the earliest steps of the inevitable McCain-conservative media healing process before they get unite nearly 100% for the general election.

2. Similarly, John McCain uses conservative venom for The New York Times to have his greatest fundraising request since becoming the presumptive nominee. Recent reports have this being a successful financial week for McCain.

Hillary Clinton's Schizophrenia
Talk about desperate. (More on this tomorrow.)

Barack Obama's Steadiness
Talk about confident. (More on this tomorrow.)

Mike Huckabee Lampoons Mike HuckabeeIf you missed it, Mike Huckabee caricatured himself on SNL, poking fun of his "I don't know math but I do know miracles" shtick, as well as his maintained stance of staying in the race until McCain officially has the majority of delegates. He probably has no shot to be the Vice-Presidential nominee now that McCain will not need his delegates. Therefore, Huckabee is playing the "career-after" card, hoping to become famous enough to live off of television appearances and the speech circuit until he retires.

Ralph Nader Declares
Stop the presses! Ralph Nader is running for President... for the third time in three elections. Unfortunately for Nader, he can never hope to top his 2.88 million votes, which was 2.7% of the vote from 2000, when liberal Democrats forgot what a close election was like. Although the media and most Democrats blow Nader's impact out of proportion (on a list of ranked reasons why Gore lost that election, Nader would not be in the top 5), it is difficult to argue against this simple statement: If Nader was not on the Florida ballot, Gore would have taken the state and the election.

Since then, Nader has been a punching bag for both parties, which probably explains why he could care less about affecting the general election. If 2004 (465,000 votes; .38% of the vote) was any cue for 2008, Democrats have learned their lesson and Nader will not earn many votes, especially in swing states.

Still, everyone should lay off Nader in 2000. Everyone has the right to run. Gore stole votes from Nader, too.

Pundits Discuss John McCain's VP PossibilitiesJohn McCain is still waiting on earning the majority of delegates before finalizing (or revealing) his choice for the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination. All media outlets are on the speculating daily, apparently unaware that I beat them to it on Valentine's Day.

Clinton Slipping in All Polls
Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, nationally. All polls. (More on this tomorrow, too.)

The Democrats Debate
The 21st and probably final Democratic debate was the biggest blowout of them all. (Tomorrow, I say! Tomorrow! See you then.)
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