Sir Walter Raleigh, so the legend goes, once threw his cloak over a mud puddle that sullied the path of Queen Elizabeth I. His chivalrous gesture served to keep Her Majesty's dainty feet free of dirt and to shield the ugly puddle from the Queen's and her loyal subjects' view. Although such gallantry is rarely seen today, we witness a similar display of devotion as the media fawns and covers for the present ruler of Camelot. Jack Cashill, author of the recently-released Deconstructing Obama, noted that while the liberal media have protectively and selectively reported every step of this President, conservatives have also "created a firewall around the White House and serve as something of a Republican Guard for its chief inhabitant." Deconstructing offers substantial arguments that it was not Obama, but a domestic terrorist from his neighborhood, Bill Ayers, who wrote Dreams From My Father. If Cashill's description of Obama's authorship puddle gains the publicity it deserves, it should create such a splash that even the mainstream media cloak could not cover the effect on Obama's reelection prospects. Potholes are numerous along the royal route from Chicago, and new ones are dug whenever Obama speaks without his loyal teleprompter. Recently, apparently annoyed by that pesky "birther" fly buzzing around his head, he scoffed: "I was born in Hawaii. What can I say? I mean, I just, I can't change those facts." These "facts," and Obama's lack of transparency in supporting them, have not been investigated by mainstream journalists beyond mouseclicks to official campaign or unofficial fact-checking websites. Writer Monte Kuligowski described the "way journalists are treating ‘birthers' and those who doubt the Obama narratives" as resembling the inquisition: "The faithful have their articles of faith that all must accept. To avoid the punishment of ridicule one must denounce his heretical beliefs and affirm the truth." As an example, George Stephanopoulos asked Michele Bachmann to "very clearly" repeat the mantra that "President Obama is a Christian and he is a citizen of the United States." A student recently told of a professor who informed his Constitution class that it mattered not where Obama was born, as it would be improper for the court to "depose" a sitting President once installed by Congress. Experts agree that the Supreme Court can and should review the legality of other Congressional acts, such as ObamaCare. The conclusion, then: every constitutional provision except the eligibility of the current occupant of the White House is a properly debatable subject, because...he won. And these brains marvel that Obama routinely operates in a realm above the law. A professor of law at the University of Illinois, Lawrence Solum, in his 2008 Michigan Law Review article addressing the presidential eligibility of John McCain, asserted the "general agreement" that "Anyone born on American soil whose parents are citizens of the United States is a ‘natural born citizen.'" But then a year and a half later (and coincidentally, as the "birthers'" nagging assertion that Obama did not have US citizen parents plural, gained wide recognition), Solum threw down his cloak and issued a revised version of his article, under the same title, with the above quotation changed to read: "As a matter of inclusion, anyone born on American soil with an American parent is clearly a ‘natural born citizen.'" Our nation's proclivity for "inclusion" has contributed to the controversial practice of "birthright citizenship," whereby citizenship is automatically granted to all babies born on US soil, regardless of the citizenship of either parent or the legal status of their domicile. The practice results in dual citizenship for individuals like Obama, a status not allowed for naturalized citizens who must renounce previous foreign citizenship and swear singular allegiance. The rules granting US citizenship to a child born overseas with only one American parent differ depending on the sex of the citizen parent, and this gender discrimination is the subject of the Flores-Villar case currently before the Supreme Court. The amicus brief submitted by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) contained a quote of John Bingham (author of the 14th Amendment) that "birthers" offer in support of their rejection of Obama's eligibility:
"All from other lands, who by the terms of [congressional] laws and a compliance with their provisions become naturalized, are adopted citizens of the United States; all other persons born within the Republic, of parents owing allegiance to no other sovereignty, are natural born citizens."
However, IRLI, with no indication, omitted from their brief the two words underlined: "of parents." The omission clearly changes the meaning of the quote, and is very interesting considering it was the IRLI who helped draft the "Interstate Birth Certificate Compact" model legislation which restricts "birthright citizenship" and grants the status of "natural born" to babies born with only one citizen parent. Words do matter, and the undisclosed omission of two critical ones in a legal brief to the highest court in the land is uncomfortably reminiscent of Professor Solum's cloak-throwing gallantry. The error, unintentional or not, impacts analysis of Presidential eligibility, proposed "birthright citizenship" legislation, and the constitutionality of the states' "birther" bills.
Past Presidents have analyzed the meaning of even tiny words like "is" under more dire circumstances. Prepositions are equally important: were Obama's "dreams" "of" or "from" his father? And which should precede "birth" when defining the eligibility term "natural born citizenship? Is the requirement "at" birth or more properly "from" birth, implying the birthplace as crucial as subsequent changes in allegiance?
Some of the proposed "birther" bills require affidavits from Presidential candidates certifying they have never held foreign or dual citizenship or that both parents were US citizens at the time of the candidate's birth. As the Constitution's framers recognized by use of the word "born," a baby cannot choose the citizenship it inherits at birth. A young man, however, can engage in life-altering choices. Obama's childhood, college, and passport records have been guarded as closely as the long-form birth certificate. We can only wonder why, and what actions Obama took before his dual citizenship "automatically expired" at age 23 -- for a passport or scholarship, in his search for his father's dreams, or perhaps so he could declare himself a "citizen of the world."
Some may regard a young man's entertainment of such possibilities as normal angst, not to be held against him later in life. Those who appreciate the young men and women who instead offer their very lives in allegiance to their country by voluntarily enlisting in our armed forces, however, might respond differently.
Experts have characterized the exercise of dual citizenship a form of "civic bigamy." The public would likely forgive youthful transgressions or less than stellar grades, but surely the most loyal subjects would hesitate should they discover their Commander-in-Chief had been unfaithful to the country he later asked to lead. At what point in his life did Obama (as did Michelle) first become proud of this country? Can allegiance to a country be ascribed to someone who desires to "fundamentally transform" it? Obama pronounced questions of his citizenship "uncivil." Likewise, "birthers" find Obama's lack of transparency uncivil, and the existence of divided allegiance, at birth or any time, as evidence of ineligibility.
As Obama's policies continue to nudge America in its slide down the slippery slope of unequal application of the law and into the sinkhole of unsustainable spending, the media and elites will someday cease laying down their cloaks over the path of The One, probably beginning with the murky puddle of his past. Whether from weariness, or the realization that no amount of fabric could possibly stretch far enough, remains to be seen.
Hat tip: Leo Donofrio