It’s worth remembering that “The Donald” was still beating the birther drum about President Obama long after other people had moved on. It seems to me that he couldn’t think of anything else to keep his name in the supermarket tabloids, so he kept bleating about Obama and his birth certificate. Fellow entertainer Joy Behar said on TV, “It’s like a fetish for him. Some men like to wear women’s underwear; this is Donald Trump’s fetish.”
“Birther” Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio are still convinced that maybe, just maybe, President Obama is a secret non-citizen. In a recent interview, Trump said, “Was there a birth certificate? You tell me. You know some people say that was not his birth certificate.”
Trump is a master of the non-denial denial formulation.
I’m not accusing Obama of not being a citizen. I’m not an expert, but there’s somebody, somewhere, who thinks it’s a problem … so I’ll just “raise the question.”
Now, birther Trump is dragging out the same old line about Ted Cruz.
Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother. “Most” legal authorities say that makes him a “natural born Citizen,” even though he held dual citizenship with Canada until 2014 when he finally renounced his Canadian citizenship. Sen. Rand Paul said he thought Cruz was definitely eligible to be Prime Minister of Canada.
Although Cruz himself has never been part of the “birther” movement, his father — who brought Cruz to the United States when he was four — may have been. Rafael Cruz said in 2012, “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia.”
The reason why this is an issue is that the Constitution has certain requirements for those who wish to run for president. It’s not enough to just be a citizen. You have to be a “natural born Citizen.” Section 1 of Article 2 tells us what is required: “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.”
The problem is that “natural born Citizen” is never explicitly defined. Some people think that means that you have to actually be born on U. S. soil. The Supreme Court has never ruled on this critical question so there continues to be room for doubt. (Except in the case of Obama, since he really was born in America.) For example, when Sen. John McCain was asked about it, he said, “I think there is a question. I am not a constitutional scholar on that but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”
For his own part, Cruz brings up McCain, as well as Barry Goldwater and George Romney, as examples of people whose “natural born Citizen” qualification to run for president has been unjustifiably questioned. But none of these cases are exactly alike. McCain’s father was in the U. S. Navy at the time, and McCain was born at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone where his father was in command. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona territory because Arizona hadn’t been admitted as a state yet. In his interview with CNN, Cruz misstates Romney’s parents as being Mormon missionaries in Mexico. (Actually, they were building a home there and intended to stay except that the Mexican revolution changed their plans.)
As much as I’d like it if Ted Cruz were forced out of the race for president, there is very little reason to think that he’s not a “natural born Citizen” under the terms of the Constitution. You can read pages of legal analysis about it at Wikipedia.
Still, it’s great to see Cruz placed in the same situation as so many immigrants. What would he say to a Mexican immigrant who was brought to the U. S. by his father when he was four years old but has lived here ever since? Maybe he would say, “Ah, but that my mother was born in Delaware, ‘There go I!’”
I doubt it.