Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Playing Politics

Is it really necessary to report all the minutia of the private lives of the presidential candidates? Does anyone really care?

The news this morning carried the story of a memo that was written by a Clinton staffer who suggested that Hillary play-up her opponent's (Obama's) "foreignness" in that he was born in Hawaii and spent time as a child in Indonesia. Thankfully, Clinton refused to rise (or sink) to the bait. She, at least in that respect, played politics on the up-and-up.

The McCain campaign, however, seem to have decided that not-quite-American-ness is a good place to attach Obama. Which is odd, if you consider that McCain has more reason to not do this than anyone who has run against him this year.

It could be argued, from a strictly a Natural-Born citizen himself and therefore he is technically ineligible to be president. I am not personally of this belief, because I am certain that legal arguments could be made on both sides of the issue, but while we are talking about the not quite American look and feel of a candidate...

The US Constitution states plainly in Section 1, Article II:

"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

While the Constitution does not define the term, "natural born citizen," it does distinguish between a "natural born citizen" and a "naturalized" citizen. Furthermore, until the passage of the fourteenth amendment, there was question as to whether persons born of foreign soil, regardless of their birth circumstances, were citizens. This amendment made clear the two types of citizens, those born here and thereby citizens by birthright, and those made citizens (naturalized) by statue of law.

From what I have read, the case law is unclear. Some persons who have no apparent claim to citizenship otherwise, have been found to be citizens for the sole reason of having been born on the grounds of a foreign embassy of the US, yet the Dred Scott decision ruled that simply being born in the US was not enough to be considered a citizen.

Dred Scott was born into slavery in Virginia in 1799 when his master died, Scott filed with the 1846. A number of conflicting verdicts later, the case appeared before the supreme court. In their 7-2 decision, offered in 1857, the majority dismissed the minority opinion that being born in the US made Scott a citizen. The majority ruled that he was property and that he be returned to his owner and back into slavery.

Now, times have certainly changed, but apparently not enough. Look, I could care less where McCain was born, or where Obama spent his childhood, or what color Obama is, or how old McCain is... none of that is important. What is important is where the candidates stand on the important issues, they really should spend more time on that and less on the piddling crap.

I tell you, it is a strange day when Paris Hilton is the voice of reason. Her recent video regarding the McCain ad comparing her to Obama was surprisingly insightful!

Wherever you are today, I hope you have an enlightening day.

Don Bergquist - August 12, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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