“Birther Hypocrisy”: Right Wing Has No Problem With Canadian Born Senator Ted Cruz Running For President
A great moment in the annals of birtherism took place last week at CPAC….and nobody much appeared to notice.
Shortly after Sarah Palin finished cooing over the introduction she had received from Senator Ted Cruz—during which the half-term governor reminded us that we need more people like the Texas Senator in Washington—Palin turned her attention to President Obama’s support for background checks for those who wish to purchase a gun.
“More background checks?” Palin asked. “Dandy idea, Mr. President -should’ve started with yours.”
While Palin’s return to birtherism accomplished the intended laugh from the appreciative crowd, there was someone in the room who was likely not laughing.
That would be Senator Ted Cruz—the man who so glowingly introduced Ms. Palin and a man who clearly views himself as being on a populist track to the White House. He’s not alone in that regard as four percent of the votes registered in the CPAC straw poll were cast in support of Mr. Cruz, the man often referred to as the Republican Barack Obama.
Ironically, there can be little doubt that among those who expressed their support for a Cruz presidency at CPAC were attendees who continue to question the current president’s constitutional right to hold the office.
I say it is ironic because, while so many on the Right invested heavily in making the argument that Barack Obama lacked constitutional qualification to be our Commander In Chief due to his alleged foreign birth in Kenya, it turns out that Tea Party hero Cruz finds himself in precisely the same circumstance—except that Cruz’s foreign point of origin is openly acknowledged.
Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, the son of an American mother and a Cuban father. Were we to buy into the birtherism claim that Obama was, indeed, born in Kenya, then he too would have been foreign born as the son of an American mother and a father who was a citizen of a foreign land.
While the controversy that has dogged President Obama has focused on the President’s claim that he came into the world in a hospital in Hawaii, if we are to accept the argument of birther-in-chief Donald Trump—who made a ‘name’ for himself in politics by alleging that the President had, indeed, been born in a foreign country—then there is no way that Senator Cruz could be qualified to run for the presidency.
Yet, there is no shortage of Cruz supporters who are prepared to argue that he is a natural born American, despite being born in Canada. Why? Because his mother was, unquestionably, an American citizen at the time of Cruz’s birth.
But is being born to an American mother in a foreign land enough to meet the constitutional requirements to hold the office?
The United States Constitution requires that a candidate for the office of the president be a “natural-born” citizen. While what constitutes a natural born citizen is not defined in the text of the Constitution and has never been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, we do know that there have been laws promulgated that defines the status of a child born outside of the United States to parents where either one or both are American citizens.
According to the State Department—
“Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock
A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.”
It would thus appear that for Senator Cruz to qualify as a natural-born citizen under this paragraph, (a) both of his parents would need to be U.S. citizens at the time of birth; and (b) one of the parents had a residence in the US at the time of birth.
Senator Cruz’s mother was clearly an American citizen—having been born in Delaware—at the time she gave birth to her son. However, Mr. Cruz’s father was a Cuban immigrant who, according to a statement issued this week by Cruz’s spokesman, was not an American citizen prior to his taking his wife to Canada to work in the oil business.
Thus, under this definition, it would appear that an argument could be successfully made that Senator Cruz is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.
It is worth noting that other candidates for president have fallen under this definition of qualification. Governor George Romney was born in Mexico to two parents who were both American citizens at the time of his birth. Thus, there were no serious challenge set forth to Romney’s meeting the constitutional test of being a natural born citizen.
There is, however, an additional definition that could cover Senator Cruz as set forth by the State Department:
“Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock
A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen, is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen, is required for physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.) The U.S. citizen parent must be genetically related to the child to transmit U.S. citizenship.”
Under this definition, it would seem clear that Senator Cruz would meet the qualifications to run for President as his mother lived in the United States for at least ten years after she was fourteen years of age prior to going to Canada (note that the rule does not require that the ten years be consecutive.)
Accordingly, it appears—at least to me—that Senator Cruz is in the clear should he decide to take a run at the White House.
But…if you agree that Cruz is constitutionally qualified to seek the presidency and you are one of those who expended so much energy going after President Obama’s qualifications as a natural-born citizen, many of us would like to know how you justify such blatant hypocrisy? After all, even if Obama was born in Kenya, he was born to a mother who was an American citizen at her birth and who had also spent the requisite amount of her life after turning fourteen years of age living in the United States (see update on this law at the end of the article.)
To get an answer to this question, I reached out to Donald Trump’s office to get his take on this issue as he would appear to consider himself a leading authority on this subject.
At the time of publication of this article, there has been no response from Mr. Trump.
Again, my own understanding of how we have treated the question of natural-born citizenship would conclude that Senator Cruz is fully qualified under the Constitution to seek the top office in the land if that should be his wish. He was never naturalized as an American citizen because it was never necessary to do so. He was one of us from the moment he arrived in this world.
But if Cruz is qualified, there can be no argument that Barack Obama was not qualified in the same way, even if you choose to believe that he is Kenyan born. To allow the blatant hypocrisy of those who spent endless hours of time and untold sums of money seeking to discredit Barack Obama only to now be perfectly willing to give Senator Cruz a pass on the subject would simply be wrong and cannot be allowed, now or in the future should Cruz seek the office, to pass unnoticed.
UPDATE: A reader correctly notes that when Barack Obama was born, his mother was three months shy of her 19th birthday which means that had he been born in Kenya, his mother would not have reached the 5 years after her 14th birthday as required by the law for him to be a natural born American. This is true. However, subsequent acts of Congress relaxed the requirement to a total number of years a parent must live in the U.S. to five years, including just two years after the age of 14 (note that this happened long before Obama entered political life.) This means that Obama’s mother would have still qualified even if the President was born in Kenya and his mother was just 16. What’s more Congress made the law retroactive to 1952. As Obama was born in 1961, he would be a natural born citizen under the same law cited in the article.
By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, March 21, 2013
Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham said yesterday that he won’t run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, paving the way for one of liberals’ favorite villains to run for the seat: Rep. Steve King.
King hasn’t announced yet, but has said he’s leaning toward a run. It’s enough to concern Steve Law, the president of the Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads, which has made it its mission to help non-Tea Party Republicans win GOP primaries. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law told the New York Times. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”
It’s an understandable concern, and Democrats are giddy at the thought of King winning the nomination. A PPP poll from earlier this month explains why: King is the overwhelming favorite in a Republican primary, but trails every Democratic candidate they tested by at least 7 points. The most likely Democratic candidate at the moment, Bruce Braley, would start out 11 points ahead. But Latham was the only Republican who came anywhere near King, making it difficult for the Rove camp to find a another candidate.
King has been trying to clean up his act lately, coming out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, for example, and he could be more of a challenge than Democrats expect. He easily won reelection this year against a strong Democratic challenger, edging her by 7 percentage points (by comparison, Michele Bachmann won reelection with a narrow 1.2 percent margin).
But his 4th Congressional District is significantly more conservative than the state overall. Mitt Romney won King’s district by 8 points, but Obama won Iowa by almost 6 points, for a swing of 14 points.
And Democrats will have no qualms hanging the things he said around his neck, as Law warned, such as:
– King is an ardent opponent of the “gay-rights agenda,” opposing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and warning that if conservatives don’t “defend marriage,” “children will be raised in warehouses.” He’s also said that gay people should keep their sexuality secret.
Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 and a plurality of Iowans approve of the decision today.
– On immigration, King has compared immigrants to dogs and joked (we hope) that a liberal should be deported for every new immigrant granted legal status. Democrats, he said, win over Latinos by giving them a “great big check.”
Fifty-eight percent of Iowans want a comprehensive immigration reform law with a pathway to citizenship.
By a 16 point margin, Iowa voters said Mitt Romney was “too conservative on issues involving women’s rights,” and King is several notches to the right of Romney.
– King doesn’t like Obama, no surprise, but has ventured into pseudo-birtherism on occasion and called the president a Marxist who doesn’t “have an American experience” because he was not raised in the U.S., “Though he surely understands the Muslim culture.”
Obama’s approval rating is around 50 percent in Iowa and the state has been famously friendly to the president, giving him a critical win in the 2008 Democratic primary and helping him win in 2012.
– He’s also cool with dog fighting.
If King does run, and especially if he wins the nomination, Iowa will quickly become the must-watch race for liberals, much as Massachusetts’ Senate campaign was last year with Elizabeth Warren. The race would also be sure to attract a ton of money and enthusiasm on both sides, with Tea Party and liberal activists pouring in from neighboring states to help either candidate.
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, February 28, 2013
They’re willing to give him a pass on the first time, but if Chief Justice John Roberts swears in President Barack Obama this time around, the birthers are ready for him.
In an op-ed published last week by WND, Craige McMillan says Roberts could be impeached by Congress if he swears in the president, whom McMillan says is not a natural-born citizen.
From McMillan’s op-ed:
If you choose the easy course of ignoring our Constitution, it does not change the fact that Mr. Obama is barred by that same Constitution from acting as president. I am sure that if you turn your judicial mind to the ramifications of this fraud, both foreign and domestic, you will understand that the harm you will have done insures your impeachment and eternal dishonor at some point down the road: If not this House of Representatives, then the next, or the next, or the next.
These things do not end well. One need only look to the aftermath of World War II and the Nuremberg Trials to see what awaits. Illegal wars. Illegal debts. Illegal laws. Will the rest of the Supreme Court’s justices, now knowing they are violating their own oath of office, continue the sham through a second presidential term?
The rant, first brought to our attention by The Huffington Post, goes on to urge Roberts to refuse to administer the oath of office.
But The National Memo, a political newsletter and website, is not having it.
In an op-ed called “Today In Crazy,” the publication writes “the reliably unhinged crazies over at WorldNetDaily” are just being melodramatic.
From The National Memo:
“Too bad this particular trip to Batty Birtherville, despite its darkly turgid undertones, is about as legitimate as all the others. It’s the same old song and dance… they demand to see the birth certificate. They are shown the birth certificate. They claim birth certificate can’t be real. Then they start shrieking that he “refuses” to show the birth certificate. They are again shown the birth certificate. They’re then shown the birth announcement from the local Hawaii newspaper from 1961. So they scream louder, “WHERE’S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” because the proof that it exists is overwhelming, and everyone knows that the louder you scream, the more right you are… even in the face of mounting and irrefutable proof that you’re wrong.”
By: Abby Rogers, Business Insider, January 10, 2013
Ridicule Donald Trump if you will. But he has, in his self-aggrandizing, delusional way, earned his own place in history.
It’s not in the way he would like. Trump appears to imagine that he is some financial and political genius, someone who alone knows how to run businesses and by extension, government. Not so much: It doesn’t take any special smarts to make a lot of cash during an historic real estate boom, and Trump in recent years has focused mainly on attaching his name to buildings and events—usually in gaudy letters. Nor has Trump displayed anything close to thoughtfulness or sophistication when it comes to politics or public policy.
Trump, whose primary goal is promoting his own name, is indeed achieving that goal. He is establishing himself as the poster adolescent for the segment of the American public that just can’t, or won’t, accept that the country is no longer run entirely by rich white men like him. In the hateful campaign to define President Barack Obama as “other” in some way—absurd insistences that he is Muslim, not American, or a socialist—Donald trumps the crowd.
Trump was clearly pleased at his pivotal role in forcing Obama to release his long-form birth certificate—an undignified and demeaning move that the president should never have had to make. But there were enough people in denial over the fact that we have a mixed-race president that Obama, unfortunately, was pushed to release the document. Trump was thrilled at his own power in the situation, but that was not enough.
In the most recent, and really, most pathetic display of Trump’s irritation with Obama’s existence as president was Trump’s ballyhooed “bombshell” announcement this week. Was it Obama divorce papers? Some other “evidence” that Obama is not really one of us? No—it was, laughably, a TV hucksterish pledge by Trump to donate $5 million to the charity of Obama’s choice if the president releases his university records, including his applications. Trumps wants the documents by 5 p.m. on October 31, suggesting this might have something to do with Trump’s Halloween costume.
It’s no surprise that Trump thinks everything and everyone can be purchased. It’s getting a little tiresome that he thinks he’s raising legitimate questions about Obama’s academic record. Obama went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. Trump seems to think that Obama got where he was—Ivy League schools and perhaps even the presidency—through some elaborate web of lies and affirmative action. That’s not just insulting, it reveals the egomaniacal Trump’s true insecurities.
There have been a lot of misstatements and outright lies thrown around in this campaign, but Trump could set an example by revealing one truth. And that is that he just can’t stand the fact that an African-American man with an exotic name is smarter and more successful than he is. It’s part of what will hopefully be a last-gasp wave of racism and fear of “other” in American society. And in history books yet to be written, Trump will be included. And it won’t be flattering.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 25, 2012
On the eve of his nominating convention, Mitt Romney complained to USA Today about the “vituperative” and “dishonest” assaults on his character by the Obama campaign and its surrogates. “Isn’t it sad?” asked the Republican candidate. “The White House just keeps stepping lower and lower and lower, and the people of America know this is an important election and they deserve better than they’ve seen.”
This whining hardly becomes the politician who dispatched his Republican rivals with multi-million-dollar barrages of attack ads. There is some truth to his complaint that Obama’s campaign is trying “to minimize me as an individual, to make me a bad person, an unacceptable person,” but that is precisely what he did to Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum on the road to Tampa. The Republican primary season was the most vicious in memory – and committees backing Romney led the bloody pack, spending more than two-thirds of their money on negative advertising.
What he is doing now, however, is arguably much worse. And again it is the kind of political behavior that shames the memory of his father George.
What’s truly sad – for a country that hurdled an important barrier four years ago – is that Romney and his aides are running an increasingly racialized campaign, seeking to capture a supermajority of white voters, because they can see no other pathway to victory. Some analysts estimate that the Republican ticket cannot win the White House without at least 61 percent of white voters – a significantly higher percentage than voted for John McCain in 2008.
Romney’s remark about his birth certificate in Michigan last week can be generously discounted as a clumsy attempt at humor, rather than a calculated slur. Growing up in the bigoted environment of the Mormon Church, he may be sufficiently obtuse not to realize that “birtherism” is a racist movement. But that wouldn’t excuse his vile advertising, which is clearly designed to stoke white resentments with false attacks on White House welfare and health care policies. The overall theme, as Thomas Edsall, Chris Matthews, and other analysts have charged, could hardly be clearer: Obama is taking Medicare money away from hard-working whites to give cash and medical care to indolent blacks.
There is no truth to those insinuations, as anyone who spends ten minutes to investigate will discover. Yet we have long since learned that a strategy of deception can succeed if it confirms existing fears and prejudices. America is neither a post-racial nor a post-partisan society, and there are certainly voting blocs, particularly among older whites, whose underlying beliefs make them more receptive to the Republican lies about Obama.
Romney may deplore discussion of his tax returns and business career, although he has used precisely those same questions to raise doubts about Republican rivals in the past. But when he falsely accuses the President of undoing welfare reform “to shore up his base,” he is trafficking in the racial ugliness that disfigured his church for a century. Having claimed that he marched with his father for civil rights, he has a special responsibility to rein in the nastiness of his minions.
If not for the sake of simple patriotism or pride, Romney should abandon the racial messaging to protect his own legacy. More than 20 years ago, Republicans won a presidential campaign with a blatantly racial appeal. The men responsible – Roger Ailes, Larry McCarthy, the late Lee Atwater, even the first President Bush — will never quite transcend that “Willie Horton” moment when opportunism overwhelmed decency.
Neither will Mitt Romney.
By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, August 28, 2012