Natural Born Irony
Is the Canadian-born Senator Ted Cruz eligible for the presidency as a natural born citizen? If not, chalk it up as one of the reasons why the junior senator, in the opinion of some, has no business working to defund ObamaCare. As noted by blogger William Jacobson, such thinking appeared to be part of the anti-Cruz argument by pundits Charles Krauthammer and Tucker Carlson last Monday night on Fox News's Special Report. In the midst of "excoriating" Cruz over his defunding strategy, Carlson remarked that the senator might not be eligible. Krauthammer quipped that Cruz could always run instead for prime minister of Canada.
That wasn't the first time Special Report mentioned the Cruz eligibility issue. In August, while guest panelist Charles Lane was arguing that Cruz's Canadian citizenship was no big deal, host Brett Baier interrupted to assert that "if you're running for president, you can't be a dual citizen." Krauthammer followed up by stating that Cruz should "of course" renounce his Canadian citizenship: "it's allegiance to another country," and "if you're head of the United States, you aren't the subject of another state."
Earlier that week, Cruz, after releasing his birth certificate showing his birth in Canada to an American citizen mother and Cuban father, had come under fire when Canadian legal experts attested that he was born with Canadian citizenship. Cruz stated said he wasn't aware of his Canadian citizenship and would formally renounce it.
Do you hear it yet -- the familiar buzz of "birtherism" in the background? For it was the similar argument against Barack Obama's candidacy that many so-called "birthers" had been proclaiming since 2008 -- that Obama's dual citizenship precluded his eligibility.
Obama's own 2008 campaign website, "Fight the Smears," admitted his dual citizenship. While FactCheck assured readers that Obama's Kenyan citizenship (inherited from his father) automatically expired when he was 23, others assert that Obama may still hold British citizenship to this day. In addition, TheBlaze's Charles Johnson reported that Obama may have Indonesian citizenship as well.
The mainstream media, however, narrowly defined the "birther" label as a conspiratorial belief in a Kenyan birth, and the finer points of the issue were lost on most.
Many who looked into it, however, found "very persuasive" the legal arguments that "born a citizen" means the same thing as the Constitution's "natural born" requirement. In other words, as long as the current citizenship law granted the child U.S. citizenship at birth, that child is a "natural born citizen." Academia, although they may not have taken the time to seriously consider the issue for Obama, now openly address it as an interesting question for Cruz; however, the focus is still primarily on the "born a citizen" theme. Those who did note the dual citizenship aspect, such as Professor Peter Spiro, called such talk (about Obama, anyway) a "bizarre sideshow."
In Prof. Jacobson's recent lengthy analysis on the natural born question, dual citizenship was addressed in a very small paragraph titled "There is Nothing Forbidding Dual Citizens." Earlier on, he noted that the framers did not include any wording regarding dual citizenship in the eligibility requirements, and that "such wording could have been inserted, and the lack of such limitations is significant."
But could it be that the term "natural born" alluded not to place of birth or the various complex citizenship laws in effect at the time of birth, but rather simply to a condition of undivided allegiance from birth? If allegiance were not the issue, why would the framers have instituted eligibility restrictions in the first place?
Lost in all the "birther" kerfuffle and scholarly analysis, and which Krauthammer appeared to recognize when he uttered the word -- is the question of allegiance.
And we should expect our president, of all people, to have undivided, singular allegiance to the United States. So Cruz volunteered to surrender his foreign citizenship. (By the way, naturalized citizens, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, must do so as part of their oath of citizenship. But dual citizens who are born that way are never required to renounce anything.)
Experts such as Dr. John Fonte have characterized dual citizenship as a sort of unfair "supra citizen" status and usage of the status as "civic bigamy." And the State Department notes the many issues with dual citizenship in its security clearance requirements.
The generally accepted view today is that birth in the USA, under any circumstances, means "born a citizen." Our sensibilities are offended, though, to consider that, for example, Anwar al-Awlaki (born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents here legally as students), children of birth tourists (here with valid passports), and children of illegal aliens are not only U.S. citizens with dual foreign citizenship, but are "natural born" -- while experts fret over the status of citizens such as John McCain or Ted Cruz.
No one is arguing that Cruz was not a citizen at birth, and although he was born with dual citizenship, it is apparent that not only did he not realize that he had Canadian citizenship, but he never used it. His citizenship, at birth, may have been dual -- but his allegiance has always been singular.
No one knows for sure whether "citizen of the world" Obama was a "civic bigamist." Some have speculated that such may be reason for the "tomb-like silence" around his college records, applications, and transcripts. His passport records were apparently interesting to someone in March of 2008, and just a couple of weeks after the "breach," Obama let slip his previously undisclosed stay in Pakistan after college. (There was also the months-long autobiography-writing retreat to Indonesia.)
I mention those tidbits not to suggest a conspiracy, but rather to note the frustration over the mainstream media's failure to ask such questions -- or, if they did, to fill us in on the answers. Sarah Palin recently revealed that her handlers told her "hands off" regarding Obama's background.
Nothing, though (and as usual), is hands off when it comes to a potential GOP candidate like Cruz. Cruz, like Palin, will be thoroughly vetted by the liberal mainstream (which may involve new journalist neighbors, inspection of his garbage, and hacking of his personal e-mails), but his career may be destroyed by detractors in his own party.
In the meantime, while experts argue over a candidate's eligibility for the presidency as a natural born citizen, in practice, we grant "natural born" citizenship to every baby born in the U.S. to mothers here illegally. And the attached price tag is staggering. A recent headline in California: "Undocumented LA county parents projected to receive $650 million in welfare benefits."
Yet the hundreds of pages of proposed immigration reform contain not a single word about the birthright citizenship issue.
Instead, the same pundits who ridiculed the "birthers" and Tea Partiers are now using citizenship arguments against a potential candidate who is a favorite of the Tea Party -- a brave senator who has the audacity to attempt to undo some of the damaging "transformation" wreaked by this president on our nation.
Oh, the irony.