Schwarzenegger for President?

For those who remain unconvinced that Barack Obama is a usurper, that he is ineligible to serve as President of the United States, it might be helpful to examine his qualifications side-by-side with the qualifications of three others whose eligibility has been questioned in modern times.  Article II. Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states, “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; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”  It is the law of the land, it applies to everyone, and it cannot be denied or discounted

In November 1966, following the late George W. Romney’s impressive reelection victory as Governor of Michigan, polls showed him leading former Vice President Richard Nixon by a margin of 39-31% for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination.  A subsequent Harris poll showed Romney, the father of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, leading President Lyndon Johnson 54-46% in a head-to-head match-up.  However, as Romney gained prominence as a potential nominee, more and more questions were raised regarding his eligibility. 

The question of eligibility was based on the widespread belief that, in order for him to serve as president, the Constitution required that he be born on American soil.  However, constitutional scholars concluded that, although he was born in a Mormon religious colony, Colonia Dublán,  in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua, the fact that both of his parents were U.S. citizens made him a “natural born” citizen.  The place of his birth was of no consequence.

A more recent case involves Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California.  Almost from the day he became governor on November 17, 2003, until he left office on January 3, 2011, there was constant speculation that he may one day run for president.  In an interview for the CBS News program, 60 Minutes, correspondent Morley Safer put the question directly to Schwarzenegger.  Schwarzenegger responded, “Yes!  Absolutely!  I think, you know, because why not?  Like with my way of thinking, you always shoot for the top.”

California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher drafted a constitutional amendment that would allow anyone who’s been a U.S. citizen for 20 years or more to run for president or vice president.  Presumably Rohrabacher’s proposal would amend the opening clause of Article II, Section 1 to read, “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this constitution, or a person who has been a citizen of the United States for at least twenty (20) years, shall be eligible to the office of President;” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has prepared a similar amendment for introduction in the Senate.

Schwarzenegger, who became a naturalized citizen in 1983, has said he supports amending the Constitution.  But amending the Constitution is no simple matter.  Any proposed amendment would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate and ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.  However, it is unlikely that we will ever be so short of qualified candidates that we would find it necessary to amend the Constitution to allow us to recruit candidates from among the foreign born or “naturalized” population.

Then, in the early months of the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, a Nashua, NH man, Fred Hollander, filed a lawsuit questioning Senator John McCain’s status as a “natural born” citizen.  His complaint was based on the fact that McCain was born on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone.  Subsequent to the filing of the lawsuit, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, a conservative Republican, and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe, a liberal Democrat, were charged with the task of researching the matter of McCain’s eligibility.

In a March 19, 2008 memorandum, Olson and Tribe, both eminent lawyers, concluded that, “based on original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers’ intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedent, Sen. McCain’s birth, to parents who were U.S. citizens serving on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, makes him a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution.”

Weeks later, in an April 10, 2008 statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Based on the understanding of the pertinent sources of constitutional meaning, it is widely believed that if someone is born to American citizens anywhere in the world they are natural born citizens.  Because he was born to American citizens, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator McCain is a natural born citizen (emphasis added).”

This was followed by an April 30, 2008 U.S. Senate resolution, approved by a vote of 99-0.  The resolution declared: “Whereas John Sidney McCain, III, was born to American citizens on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.” 

It is important to note that all three… the Olson-Tribe Memorandum, the Leahy statement, and the U.S. Senate Resolution… utilize the plural terms “parents” or “American citizens,” strongly suggesting that the “natural born” question rests, in large part, on the necessity of both parents being U.S. citizens. 

Finally, during the same 2008 primary season, as Illinois senator Barack Obama forged a lead over his principal opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, his eligibility under Article II, Section 1 was called into question.  Obama claimed to have been born to an American mother, 18-year-old Stanley Ann (Dunham) Obama, and an African father, 25-year-old Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a citizen of Kenya, a British crown colony.  And while no one among the delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, or among the Democratic members of the U.S. Electoral College, or any member of the U.S. Congress… sitting in joint session on January 6, 2009 to certify the votes of the Electoral College… thought to question Obama’s eligibility, numerous citizen lawsuits were filed in federal courts questioning his eligibility.

The facts in Obama’s case are quite clear and unambiguous.  Part 2, Section 5(1) of the British Nationality Act of 1948, the controlling legal authority on who is and who is not a British subject, reads, in part, as follows: “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth…”

Obama’s father, a Kenyan, was a British subject at the time of his birth.  Therefore, under controlling British law, it is undeniable that Obama was born with dual US-British citizenship “by descent” from his Kenyan father and his American mother.   

Official U.S. government policy, as outlined in publications of the U.S. State Department, is as follows: “The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it… because of the problems it may cause.  Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law…  However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country.  They are required to obey the laws of both countries…(emphasis added)”  

Obama’s dual US-British citizenship required him to obey the laws of both the United States and Great Britain.  Is it even remotely conceivable that the Founders would have envisioned a chief executive who was obligated, at any time in his life, to obey the laws of a foreign country? 

Beyond that, Obama’s claim to the presidency clearly flies in the face of the words of John A. Bingham, the chief framer of the 14th Amendment, who wrote: “Every human being born within the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty (emphasis added) is, in the language of the Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”  It is possible that Obama may have been born in the United States, a claim that is far from a certainty.  However, he still falls far short of eligibility under the Bingham standard.  His birth father owed allegiance to a foreign sovereignty, the British crown, automatically passing that nationality and that allegiance on, “by descent,” to his son, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.

Of the four candidates evaluated, two are clearly eligible under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, and two are not.  The late Governor George Romney, of Michigan, was a “natural born” citizen because, in spite of the fact that he was born in Mexico, both of his parents were American citizens.  Senator John McCain, of Arizona, is clearly a “natural born” citizen because, while he was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone, both of his parents were U.S. citizens. 

Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is clearly not a “natural born” citizen because he is a “naturalized” citizen.  He was born in Austria and both of his parents were Austrian citizens.  And finally, Barack Obama is ineligible to serve because only one of his parents was a U.S. citizen.  He was born owing allegiance to both the United States and Great Britain.  However, if he can point to a clause in the U.S. Constitution, a law, or a legal precedent proving that, at some point in his life, he lost his dual nationality and magically became a “natural born” citizen, I will bow to his claim and end my crusade to have him declared ineligible.  Until then, he is not my president because all controlling legal authority… American, British, and Kenyan… tells us he cannot be.  He must step down and end the pretence.

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