One of the more unusual aspects of the 2008 campaign is that both Barack Obama and John McCain face questions face questions about their status as natural born citizens, which would jeopardize their eligibility to be President.

Some have claimed that Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate was forged—perhaps to cover up proof that he wasn’t born a citizen. Those who cry forgery have a tough row to hoe: they have to prove (A) that there actually was a forgery, (B) that Obama was born in neither the United States nor its territories, and (C) that even if B were true, then contemporary U.S. law would somehow negate the fact that his mom was an American citizen. The best evidence that Obama is an honest-to-goodness natural born citizen is the fact that Hillary Clinton couldn’t prove otherwise. I have no doubt she tried.

On the other side of the aisle, some have claimed that McCain is not a natural born citizen because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Now, this claim may seemsilly at first, because the Zone was a U.S. territory at the time. But when you consider that McCain was born on a U.S. military base inside that U.S. territory and that both parents were U.S. citizens, then the claim barges into the realm of utter stupidity. The Senate shrugged it off earlier this year with a resolution that McCain is in fact a natural born citizen.

While it would make for great political theatre to see both men declared constitutionally ineligible on, say, November 4th, it isn’t gonna happen. Unless…

Take a closer look at Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution, which lists the constitutional qualifications for the Presidency. It begins:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;

At first glance, there seems to be at least one too many commas in there. Traditionally, we’ve ignored the second comma, effectively rendering it thus:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;

…which means that natural born citizens are eligible and anyone who was a citizen on September 17, 1787 (or June 21, 1788 depending on your definition of “adoption”) was eligible.

But what if that’s the wrong interpretation? With so many commas thrown in haphazardly, this clause becomes the grammatical equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot.

I contend that the third comma should be ignored, and the commas surrounding “or a Citizen of the United States” were meant to be parenthetical:

No person except a natural born Citizen (or a Citizen of the United States) at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to the Office of President;

Isn’t it possible that the proper reading of this clause is that everyone born after the adoption of the Constitution in 1787 is ineligible to be President? If so, then everypresident after William Henry Harrison should have been disqualified (except #12, Zachary Taylor, born 1784). That’s all but ten of them.

This is a real crisis, folks. We’ve got to go back and undo every action of these impostor Presidents. We have to throw out every decision of every Cabinet official they nominated. We’ve got to reinstate every bill vetoed since 1839, the last time a real President vetoed a bill. We have to repeal the opinions of every Supreme Court justice they nominated, and consider the entire Court vacant since 1867, when the last justice nominated by a real President bought the farm.

Forget McCain and Obama—until we find someone in his or her two hundred twenties who’s willing to serve, the office of President must remain vacant.

One Comment

  1. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:

I have the solution:
Since the T-800 is currently Governor of California, he just needs to be sent back to 1787. This will of course mean that Arnold Schwarzenegger would now eligible to be President of the United States.
Can you imagine the possibilities:
Osama bin Laden – Terminated
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Terminated
Kim Jong Il – Terminated
And when we are invaded by Predators, he will lead us to victory!

July 19th, 2008 at 1:23 am