1) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they value his presidency higher than they value the Constitution.
2) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they believe it would be dangerous to the stability of the country to pursue it.
3) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they understand it is dangerous to do so.
4) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they simply don’t believe a national fraud of this magnitude could have been pulled off.
5) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they don’t care about the integrity of the Constitution. Period.
6) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because pursuing it means damaging your personal reputation due to ridicule by the political and cultural establishment.
7) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they have in mind future candidates of their own who might not qualify if the provision is taken seriously.
8) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they don’t care about politics. Period.
9) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they don’t believe “it’s a winning issue.”
10) Some people don’t care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility because they think this particular provision is “an anachronism.”
It’s this last group I want to discuss today.
Do you think this debate started in 2008?
You’re wrong. It started way back in 2004.
One of the advocates for the plan was Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. When WND revisited this hearing in 2009, his comments were still available in an audio file posted at Talk Radio News. That posting, like so many others involving this issue, has since mysteriously been scrubbed.
Here’s some of what he said on the subject: “I believe in the right of the people to choose as they wish. People say, ‘Well you’re amending the Constitution.’ The fact is in 1789 the notion of direct democracy was not the one that governed. Clearly in terms of world history the people who came to the American continent … they went for the first time to self-governance, but they didn’t go all the way. We have evolved substantially since that time, I think in a good direction. We do have now this major obstacle in the way of the voters, and we say to them, ‘We don’t trust you, you could get fooled, I mean, they might, some foreign country might sucker you by getting some slick person and mole him into the United States or her and get that person citizenship and then years later have that person get elected president and you’ll be too dumb to notice.’ I don’t think that’s accurate and I don’t think that ought to be the governing principle. I really believe that the people of the United States ought to have the right to elect as president of the United States someone they wish.”
It should surprise no one, of course, that Barney Frank is wrong about this. He’s wrong about everything.
But take a look at what others had to say at that hearing so long ago:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: “What is a natural born citizen? Clearly, someone born within the United States or one of its territories is a natural born citizen. But a child who is adopted from a foreign country to American parents in the United States is not eligible for the presidency. Now, that does not seem fair or right to me. Similarly, it is unclear whether a child born to a U.S. serviceman overseas would be eligible. This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly un-American. Consistent with our democratic form of government, our citizens should have every opportunity to choose their leaders free of unreasonable limitations. Indeed, no similar restriction bars any other critical members of the government from holding office, including the Senate, the House of Representatives, the United States Supreme Court, or the president’s most trusted Cabinet officials. The history of the United States is replete with scores of great and patriotic Americans whose dedication to this country is beyond reproach, but who happen to have been born outside of our borders.”
Keep in mind, these comments were being made by a Republican four years after a fellow Republican senator born overseas to an American serviceman overseas had sought the nomination of his party for the presidency. Sen. John McCain would seek the presidency again four years later – and face a barrage of hostile media raising the issue of constitutional eligibility, culminating in a unanimous Senate vote of approval of his qualifications. Sen. Barack Obama voted in the affirmative, but avoided any media scrutiny of his own credentials except for WND.
Here’s more evidence from that testimony that both elite Democrats and Republicans in Washington think eligibility requirements in the Constitution are antiquated and outdated.
Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla.: “Many Americans would probably be surprised to learn that a constitutional question remains as to whether a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen serving in the military or serving at a government post are not clearly, indisputably eligible to seek the highest office in our land. Nor is it clear whether a child born overseas to a citizen traveling or working abroad is eligible to run for president. There are strong legal arguments that say these children are eligible, but it certainly is not an inarguable point. Some citizens are ineligible to transmit citizenship to a biological child born abroad because of a failure to meet certain statutory criteria such as having lived in the United States for five years, two of which had to be after the age of 14.”
At least one expert raised concerns about the idea – Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation.
“The attachment of the president must be absolute, and absolute attachment comes most often from being born and raised in – and educated and formed by – this country, unalloyed by other native allegiances,” he said. “The natural born citizen requirement for the presidency seeks to guarantee, as much as possible, this outcome where it matters most,” he said. “The question is whether you can expand the eligibility to non-native-born citizens without undermining the wisdom and caution inherent in the framers’ design. One proxy would be a significant citizenship requirement, along with a significantly increased residency requirement. How much? The question is enough to approximate the attachment that comes with having lived in America for almost all of one’s life, thus fundamentally shaped by this regime, its history, institutions, and way of life. The average of 20th century presidents is 54. A 35-year citizenship requirement, combined with a residency requirement increase, would assure that most would-be presidents are citizens before they are 18 years old and residents for much of the time thereafter.”
So even before Obama entered the picture, the political establishment in Washington was already going soft on a hallmark constitutional provision. It’s worth noting that a year earlier, Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, was elected governor of California and was, for a time, considered Republican presidential timber.
Despite the fact that there are so many different reasons not to care about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility – probably more than the 10 I enumerated above – there are two discomfiting facts that cannot be ignored:
1) The “natural born citizen” requirement is still a part of the Constitution.
2) About half of Americans, according to nearly every poll conducted, question Obama’s eligibility and are troubled by the many unanswered questions – questions that continue to haunt his presidency and the integrity of America’s political system.