Archive for February, 2008

Sen. John McCain’s Qualifications for Becoming President of the United States

Friday, February 29th, 2008

       It is very strange the way that life’s events play out, for the celebrity and even for a common ordinary person like me.  For a good part of my life, it was my responsibility to teach history and government to adolescents in high school; it was my chosen career.  It was up to me to teach teen-agers what was in the U.S. Constitution that was important to them.  But it is not easy to convince adolescents that history, government, or the Constitution is something that they need to know; high school students think that math and science are important and history and government is a waste of their time.  So, I tried telling my students stories to stimulate interest in the Constitution.

      When I was an adolescent, I wanted to study the Constitution and law; actually, I always looked for loop-holes because that seemed to be the adult thing to do.  I had a burning desire be an adult and have a place in society.  Also, I have always been a patriot and a democrat, because I understood that democracy was an equalizer.  I embraced American democracy because it meant that I was as good as anybody and I never let the world forget it.  When I became a teacher, it was my desire to instill that concept of democracy and equality in my students even if they did not totally share my interest; but first, I had to get their attention.      For example, the U.S. Constitution states, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United 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.”          Students usually woke up and became interested in the Constitution when I explained that a natural born citizen is one that is born within the borders of the United States and even if they had American parents, if they were born overseas they could not become President of the United States.  That is what I had been taught through all those years of public school, college, and graduate school.  Students were usually piqued when we discussed the fact that if they were born of American parents but outside the United States, they were not considered ‘natural born citizens’ eligible to become the President.  Most students felt this was exceedingly unfair and I did not necessarily disagree.  But, then I would explain the purpose for the ‘natural born citizen’ qualification.

      The purpose for this provision, I would explain to them just as it had been explained to me over the years, was that often when there was a revolution in a nation, in those times, someone born of royal blood and brought up outside the country, would be brought back to that country to lead the revolution and lay claim to the throne.  These ‘imported’ kings were considered foreigners and the people didn’t like that.  Of course America was not to have a royal throne, however, our forefathers did not want someone brought up in a foreign culture and claiming American citizenship to come back and be installed in the Presidency; such a person would not be familiar with American values and culture and that was unacceptable to the American Constitutional forefathers.  This little story about qualification for the Presidency always seemed to stimulate a lot of interest in the Constitution.  The story was a motivational device.

       Several of my students were invariably from military families and some had been born overseas; the ‘natural born citizen’ requirement of Presidents did not set well with them.  In all honesty, not all of those students appeared to me to be of Presidential timber, but who was I to say and their aspirations were their own business.    

       Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War hero, has always been prominent in American politics and was a candidate for the Presidency in 2000.  He lost.

        Today McCain is again a candidate for the Republican nomination and it looks as though he has the nomination.  Personally, I admire John McCain the war hero and Senator, even though I disagree with his politics.

       A few years ago, I researched John McCain for a commentary that I was writing and discovered something of interest.  John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone on August 29, 1936, of an American naval officer and his American wife.  Immediately, I wondered why he had been a candidate for the Presidency in 2000, if he was not a ‘natural born citizen’ of the United States and therefore not qualified to be President.

     Intrigued, I wrote an email to Senator McCain and ask him, in a polite way, if he was aware of his disqualification for the Presidency because he was not a ‘natural born citizen’ or if I was misinformed about the Constitutional requirement; I am not infallible.

     Senator McCain never answered my letter and that was one of the very few times in my life that a member of Congress did not answer a letter from me.  I have written many letters to members of Congress and quite frankly Senator McCain disappointed me.

      On February 28, 2008, the New York Times carried the story, “McCain’s Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out”, by Carl Huse. 

      (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/politics/28mccain.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

      To my gratification, the article seems to confirm what I had taught all those years, however, a number of Republican politicians commenting on the issue stated unequivocally that I am wrong and have been all these years; however, it has been my experience that current Republican politicians, including President Bush, do not appear to pay much attention to the Constitution anyway.

      The article does trace the origin to the provision for a President to be a ‘natural born citizen’ to a letter from John Jay to George Washington; it appears that there was a fear that a foreigner could become President if the requirement were not included.

        Certainly, John McCain could have lived his entire life outside of the United States, still be considered a U.S. citizen, and he would for all practical purposes be considered a foreigner.  Now I am intrigued by the rhetorical question that if McCain had lived his entire life to this point outside the United States, would he qualify as a ‘natural born citizen’ to the satisfaction of the American people?

      For some odd reason, Senator McCain was not interviewed nor made any statement for the Times article.  It would appear that the Times had the same experience I did, Either Sen. McCain just chooses not to answer the question or perhaps he has never read the Constitution and is unaware of Presidential qualifications.

      The Times article contains arguments of some Republican politicians favoring McCain’s candidacy and those arguments are very interesting.  Senator Lindsey Graham was quoted as saying, of McCain’s father, “He was posted there on orders from the United States government.”  Duh!

     Senator Don Nickles was quoted, “They (citizens born outside the U.S.) ought to have the same rights.”  However, what does ‘ought to’ have to do with the Constitution and law.  Reality is that the requirement is not only in the Constitution but it is there for a purpose and that was the intent of the framers of the Constitution; the ‘intent’ of the framers of the Constitution is very important in interpreting it.

     Let me say that I mean Senator McCain no harm and Constitutional requirements for the Presidency is not why I would object to having him become the President.  However, I have a personal stake in the question because I was taught that only ‘natural born citizens’ could be President and I taught hundreds of young American citizens that only ‘natural born citizens’ could be President.  I meant well; but did I fail my students?

      In California, the present Governor is a ‘natural born citizen’ of Austria who retains his Austrian citizenship along with his ‘naturalized’ American citizenship.  It is obvious that California will elect anybody to be their governor.

       As a former California school teacher, I do admit that I often resent the Governor of California making decisions about California public schools, especially decisions that I disagree with, because he has never attended an American public school.  My preference for Governor of California would be to have a ‘natural born citizen’ of the United States, preferably California.

     Things are going to be interesting if John McCain wins the Electoral vote for President in November.

I Wonder Why? (2)

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

I wonder why Republicans are getting so involved in the Democratic primary race and condemning both Hillary and Barrack, neither of whom they intend to vote for, while the Republican primary race produces no viable candidate.

 

I wonder why Americans are disagreeing over whether or not a suspect in a criminal case, whether a citizen or not, should have the right of ‘Habeas Corpus’ when the U.S. Constitution says it is the inalienable right of any man; either Americans should believe in the U.S. Constitution or they shouldn’t be living in a democracy!

 

I wonder why average American citizens refuse to accept any responsibility for America’s ugly image in the world today, as a nation that promotes and approves of torture, imperialism, sadism, greed, arrogance, and incessant violation of International Law with impunity; all Americans, who either agree and support the guilty Bush Administration or remain silent, are guilty (and this includes Congressmen of both political parties)?

 

I wonder why American Christians insist on legislating ‘their own Christianity’ to apply to all Americans (including non-Christians) but cannot find Christian compassion of their own to ‘love their enemy’ (or even some of their neighbors)?

 

I wonder if any of the seventy percent of the American people who oppose the War in Iraq can possibly vote for a candidate for the Presidency who voted for the Congressional, Bush ‘Iraq War Resolution’ and still defend it without apology?

 

 

What I Wonder?

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

I wonder why President Bush says his ‘Surge’ was successful, since he did not find any weapons of mass destruction? 

I wonder why in the world John McCain would want American troops to stay in Iraq for 100 years, when American cannot afford the cost of keeping them there for seven years?      

I wonder why Americans permit Television Network make so much profit from democratic elections, like 20 million dollars spent on political advertising for Super Tuesday alone; candidate information should be published as a public service and Americans can be bought for much less!

I wonder why so many Americans curse Mexican immigrants in America, where they say the Mexicans don’t belong, and Mexicans are descendents of American Indians?

I wonder how some Americans could laugh at Hillary Clinton crying on TV because if it was my wife crying on TV, I would get the hell out of her way!

I wonder how the government sending me $500 is going to stimulate the economy when I have to sent it right back to the government to pay my income tax?

I wonder why Gen. Petraeus says the ‘Bush Surge’ was a success because there are now fewer killings in Iraq, since that is like a woman being a little bit pregnant?

 I wonder why politicians think that giving vouchers paid for with tax money to the smartest kids, so they can go to private schools, is going to improve public schools?