Monday, August 19, 2013

Live By The Poutine, Die By The Poutine

I don't believe we really need to rehash that much the birther movement, the long-running struggle to somehow prove that Barack Obama isn't a US citizen by birth and therefore ineligible to be President. For the record, yes, that movement is still alive, even if cable news is sick of covering it and at least one member of Congress has conceded that, even if the argument has merit which it doesn't but even if it did, the matter was effectively settled last November with Obama's reelection.

Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, would like to be President in 2016. Technically, he hasn't declared yet- nobody declares this early and everyone denies it if you ask- but there are some people early on in an election cycle who are clearly, obviously going to run and the only reasons they haven't announced yet are, A, there's a midterm between now and then that can always muck things up yet, and B, officially announcing introduces a bunch of structural hassles they don't want on their hands yet. So for now, the obvious candidates engage in kabuki theater like traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire even though the offices they hold have nothing to do with those states, putting out memoirs that double as statements of their political platform, even trips overseas to politically sensitive regions ideally including visits with high-ranking officials.

In Ted's current bit of campaigning-not-campaigning, he released his birth certificate. Something that makes no sense unless you're running for an office with residency requirements that include being a natural-born citizen and unless a previous campaign for that office made a big deal of it gee don't you just wonder what that could be. In releasing it, though, an interesting development occurred: laypeople learned that Cruz is Canadian-born, in Calgary, and has dual citizenship.

Now, this is not a disqualifier. Cruz was not born on American soil; however, he has at least one American parent, born in Wilmington, Delaware (his father was born in Cuba), so even though he wasn't born on American soil, he's still got American birthright citizenship. The thing is that Canada also has birthright citizenship as of 1947. So Cruz could run for office in Canada next time out if he really wanted to. The Consititution is silent on dual citizenship, but legal scholars are in general agreement that it ought not to be an issue.

Legally, at least. But Cruz, whose Tea Party credentials depend on shows like this, has suddenly found himself on the defensive from people figuring that if Obama shouldn't really be President, neither should Cruz. Honolulu was one thing. John McCain's brief issue of being born in the Panama Canal Zone was one thing (it was under US control). Calgary's another. Everyone knows that Calgary is not and never has been anything resembling American territory.

This is still not a fight that's really worth having in my book. But it's a consistent one. Failure to follow the rules that you yourself set down has ended its fair share of political careers over the years. It's why, for example, family-values Senator Larry Craig was brought down over soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. So whatever damage Cruz may take from this politically, he has nobody to blame for it but himself.

Not that he won't probably try.

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