Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a prominent backer of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, introduced legislation Thursday that would define a "natural-born citizen" as anyone born to any U.S. citizen while serving in the active or reserve components of the U.S. armed forces. Obama's campaign announced late Thursday that he will co-sponsor the bill.Here's Scheiber's comment:
"Those who serve and sacrifice for their country, like John McCain and his father deserve every honor and privilege that our nation can possibly provide, and that includes the ability to run for the highest office in the land," Obama said in a statement.
There was just no way McCain was going to be denied the presidency on the grounds that he was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was stationed there for the military. You might as well take the high ground here, and Obama's done so pretty gracefully (and with some political savvy).Actually, Obama found the only possible low ground and made it look like high ground.
The argument that McCain isn't a natural born citizen within the meaning of Article II of the Constitution is an obvious loser, both as a matter of constitutional interpretation and as something that an opposing candidate would want to say. But Obama, co-sponsoring the bill, is acting generous, as though he is forbearing making an attack. But since there is no attack to make, he's not actually being magnanimous. He's only putting on a show.
What is more, offering a statutory solution sends the message that there is a problem to be fixed. So in fact, it's a crafty way of saying that McCain is not now currently qualified!
Finally, if one believed the statute were needed to solve a problem of disqualification, there would be 2 reasons why it would not be effective:
1. A statute can't change the meaning of a constitutional term. Congress can no more re-define who is a "natural born citizen" than it can deem persons younger than 35 to be qualified for the presidency.
2. Even if a statute could successfully re-define who is a citizen at birth, McCain was born 71 years ago. Anyone who believed that this new statute conferred status as a natural-born citizen would be plunged into confusing questions about whether it could have a retroactive effect as it related to the constitutional clause.
Thus, fooling with this bill now is a way of creating phony doubts about McCain's qualification. That Obama can also receive plaudits for magnanimity should startle us awake. This is a man with amazing rhetorical skills, so we need to raise our game. I'm not saying Obama shouldn't be President. Indeed, I'd like to see skills like this wielded in our favor on the world stage. But pay attention and sharpen up so you can see what he's saying!
ADDED: In the email:
Are you sure you're not misoverestimating him? I think Bush played the lowered expectations games brilliantly [his strategery was to be misunderestimated] and the Bush/Rove jujitsu is legendary. Obama might be too smart by half.
UPDATE: The Washington Post joins the gullibility club.