“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
“Skepticism Of Conservative Ideas Requires No Bias”: When Will Conservatives Get Over The Liberal Media Myth?
It’s the perfect recipe for conservative apoplexy: On the one hand you have the Politico reporting that journalists are dissatisfied with their access to the president and, on the other, you have Chuck Todd saying the media isn’t liberal.
The response has been predictable. “Are you kidding me?” conservatives say. “What difference does access make when you agree with everything the president says? And your kneejerk agreement is proof enough that you are biased.”
It’s a line of reasoning that folds neatly into a larger conservative narrative: If only the media were doing its job and accurately reporting on the White House we all would be as disenchanted with the administration as they are. If that argument seems familiar to you, it should. We’ve been hearing it from conservatives for a long, long time.
Back in 1944 Gunnar Myrdal wrote a book on American race relations. One of his theses was that change would come to the segregated South when journalists began reporting on the conditions there. Myrdal’s notion was that most Americans didn’t understand just how bad things were for African-Americans under segregation, but that once they learned they wouldn’t be able to ignore it.
You can argue the merits of Myrdal’s work, but one thing that proved prescient was his understanding of the role the media would play in changing public attitudes about segregation. When Northern press turned its attention to the civil rights movement, the stories and photos they published helped shape the national debate about Jim Crow and arguably hastened its end.
The reaction of Southern conservatives to these news reports, however, was a little different. The problem, they said, isn’t segregation, it’s the way a Northern press infected with integrationist sympathies reports it. Of course, that was hogwash. Segregation was exposed and, eventually, ended. But in the embers of an ideological defeat, conservatives found a handy bit of linguistic Jujitsu. If the facts prove inconvenient, don’t argue them. Instead, shift the focus and question the integrity of the fact-finder. If you’re successful, then in one broad stroke you may be able to disqualify the facts without ever having to argue them on the merits.
Impugning the motives of those we’ve entrusted with separating fiction from fact has proven an effective strategy for the right. Don’t agree with a judicial decision? Blame the “activist” judge. Think an academic paper might be damaging to your cause? No worries. Academia is “liberal” and “elitist.” Worried that global warming might prove nettlesome? It’s the product of scientists harboring a “hidden agenda.”
And today a news media that might otherwise be making reasoned judgments about what’s news and what isn’t has become so cowed by conservative complaints that just about any allegation, no matter how outlandish, must receive “equal time.” Donald Trump’s birther claims are a terrific example. Trump has all the credibility of a squirrel monkey. And the charges he mounted in 2011 were completely bereft of anything resembling a fact. Yet when he was pressing his “questions” about the president’s place of birth, the media felt compelled to put him on the air in an endless loop, and to book guests to argue “both sides” of the “controversy.” Ridiculous.
But suggest that the media might not be so liberal after all, and you elicit ferocious conservative push-back. Just ask Chuck Todd. Last week, when he said media bias was a myth, the conservative response was perhaps best typified by Greg Gutfeld’s 90 second uninterrupted monologue on Fox, which I think can be fairly boiled down to: The media is liberal because the media is liberal and it’s preposterous to think otherwise.
There’s another way of looking at this, of course. As hard as this may be for conservatives to swallow, it may be that 65 million people voted for the president precisely because they have a clear understanding of his record, and what he wants to do—and they agree with it.
Look, in my work, I have found many occasions to be frustrated with reporters. Sometimes they do a good job and sometimes they don’t. But clinging to the notion that they are wittingly or unwittingly involved in some kind of mass liberal conspiracy is a little nutty.
If that’s the case, you may ask, how can it be that I sometimes find unflattering coverage of conservative ideas? Well, one might ask in return, have you taken a look at the ideas conservatives have championed over the years? Segregation is the way to go. Women shouldn’t work. The government is filled with hidden communists. People on the lower end of the economic spectrum are there because they are lazy. Cutting taxes for the rich is the best economic program for everyone. America is one step removed from becoming a totalitarian state. Etc.
In other words, my conservative friends, it may finally be time to come to terms with the following: Its your ideas that leave something to be desired, not the media’s coverage of them.
By: Anson Kaye, U. S. News and World Report, February 28, 2013
America, you are an idiot.
You are a moocher, a zombie, soulless, mouth-breathing, ignorant, greedy, self-indulgent, envious, shallow and lazy.
The foregoing is a summation of “analysis” from conservative pundits and media figures — Cal Thomas, Ted Nugent, Bill O’Reilly, et cetera — seeking to explain Mitt Romney’s emphatic defeat. They seem to have settled on a strategy of blaming the voters for not being smart enough or good enough to vote as they should have. Because America wasn’t smart enough or good enough, say these conservatives, it shredded the Constitution, bear-hugged chaos, French-kissed Socialism, and died.
In other words, the apocalypse is coming.
Granted, such thinking does not represent the totality of conservative response to the election. The reliably sensible columnist Kathleen Parker offered a, well… reliably sensible take on what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal spoke thoughtfully to Politico about how conservatism must change to meet the challenges of the future.
Unfortunately, for every Parker or Jindal, there is a Donald Trump urging revolution or a petition drive advocating secession from the union. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, just when you think you could not possibly be more astonished at how panic-stricken and estranged from reality much of the political right now is, there comes word of Henry Hamilton’s suicide.
He was the 64-year-old owner of a tanning salon in Key West, FL. As recently reported in The Miami Herald, he was found dead two days after the election with empty prescription bottles next to him, one for a drug to treat anxiety, another for a drug to treat schizophrenia. Hamilton, according to his partner, Michael Cossey, was stressed about his business and had said that if President Obama were re-elected, “I’m not going to be around.” Police found his will, upon which was scrawled “F— Obama.”
Sometimes, they act — the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, the Trumps, the Limbaughs, the whole conservative political infotainment complex — as if this were all a game, as if their nonstop litany of half-truths, untruths and fear mongering, their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence, had no human consequences. Sometimes, they behave as if it were morally permissible — indeed, morally required — to say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded left. And never mind that vulnerable people might hear this and shape their beliefs accordingly.
Did the conservative political infotainment complex kill Henry Hamilton? No.
But were they the water in which he swam, a Greek chorus echoing and magnifying the outsized panic that troubled his unwell mind? It seems quite likely.
One hopes, without any real expectation, that Hamilton’s death will give pause to the flame-throwers on the right. One hopes, without any real expectation, that somebody will feel a twinge of conscience. Or shame.
But that will not happen.
Because, what you see here is not the behavior of calculating showmen who don’t believe half the garbage they say. If it were, we might have hope.
But these, I have come to believe, are not showmen. They are zealots. They do believe half the garbage they say, and they have microphones to say it with. That is infinitely more frightening.
So one can only hope, with slightly more expectation, that the GOP will finally disenthrall itself from this ongoing affront to decency and intelligence and thereby render it moot.
Until it does, we can only absorb the impact of these regularly scheduled meltdowns. And pity the likes of Henry Hamilton.
For him, the apocalypse already came.
By: Leonard Pitts, The National Memo, November 19, 2012
“How ya like me now?” — Barack Obama
OK, so Obama didn’t really say that, but surely he must have thought it behind a private smile at some point Tuesday night.
There are no smiles among the Republicans, however, only a pressing question: Can the GOP fix itself? Can a party whose appeal is wholly white and mainly male learn to appeal to a rainbow electorate which is neither? Especially after it has spent so many years denigrating that rainbow, drawing lines in the sand, placing chips on its shoulder.
There are hopeful signs that our long national hissy fit may at last be over. House Speaker John Boehner was making conciliatory noises about resolving the economic impasse the day after the election. Some of the party’s most prominent voices, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have been speaking of the need for the GOP to broaden its appeal. So maybe the adults are finally returning home.
But the place is a wreck, because the kids (looking at you, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain) have been having quite the party. And repairing it is going to be a long and difficult process.
In the first place, any sudden GOP outreach to those it spurned while courting angry older white men must unavoidably appear conniving, self-conscious and self-serving. And once you get past the problem of appearances, there is the simple question of what it will take to undo the damage the party has inflicted upon itself with those groups.
How long will it be before gay men and lesbians are willing to forgive and forget that the party has routinely demeaned their relationships and impugned their moral fitness?
How long will it take before Hispanics are willing to let bygones be bygones with a party that spoke of “self-deportation” and cheered the notion of a border fence to electrocute undocumented Mexican workers?
And how much time must go by before African-Americans are willing to look past the GOP’s unrelenting and deeply personal disrespect toward the nation’s first African-American president, its insistence on treating him as some foreign Other who, in John Sununu’s memorably tawdry phrase, must “learn how to be an American”?
All that said, the biggest question here is not whether the GOP can transform itself, but whether it can even try. At this point, the Republicans are less a traditional political party than what disenchanted former GOP staffer Mike Lofgren has called an “apocalyptic cult.”
And cults are remarkably fact-resistant. Cultists live in a reality of their own construction and, far from being chastened by it, they thrive on rejection. So while the grownups in the party may be reading the writing on the demographic wall and believe it calls on them to abandon extremism, there is every reason to believe the rest of the party will think that writing requires them to double down on it instead.
Indeed, even as Rubio and Boehner were talking sense, party icons were talking the same old craziness. Donald Trump called for revolution in the wake of Obama’s re-election. Ted Nugent called Obama supporters “pimps, whores … welfare brats” and “soulless fools.” Bill O’Reilly said people voted for Obama because he will “give them things.”
And so on.
This, then, is the dilemma Republicans have created for themselves by their own short-sightedness. It was all well and fine to embrace angry white male extremism so long as white male extremism was able to deliver elections. That day is passing and the party awakens in a new America, desperately needing to change but quite possibly prevented from doing so by the very craziness it has so long cultivated.
Ain’t that a kick in the head? For years, the party has won elections by inventing enemies for angry white men to fear. But at this point, the GOP has no bigger enemy than itself.
By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, November 12, 2012
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