Friday, February 29, 2008

NYT Shocker - McCain A Closet Hispanic

Having firmly established in the public mind that John McCain is not an adulterer and does not shill for lobbyists, the New York Times has finally nailed George Bush's heir presumptive with a genuine real live fact - he was born in Central America. Panama to be precise about it, and the Old Gray Lady, as we know, likes to be as precise as a Dowager Duchess at a Windsor tea party. Reporter Carl Hulse feels not only the Senator's deep pain but empathizes with that vast multitude of Americans who through the long years since the Revolution have silently, nay invisibly suffered the anguish and uncertainty of giving birth on foreign soil to children doomed to live out their lives under a black cloud of despair and discrimination.

"The question," Hulse agonizes, "has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president?" He goes on to point out that for "Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming". Indeed why stop at the Republican candidate? Senator Barack Obama was also born ( is this a coincidence or a Vast Clintonian Conspiracy?) "outside the continental United States" in Hawaii, a group of volcanic islands literally thousands of miles from a significant landmass of any kind. As we read on it becomes apparent that the caring Carl is setting geography at nought, though geography in and of itself goes to the heart of the question he is raising, and means the phrase "continental United States" to comprehend the whole of the US, its islands and territorial seas.

The rest of the piece consists of much lawyerly humming and hawing about the "natural born" restriction on citizens occupying the Presidency (and of course the Vice Presidency, though this is not specifically mentioned). Scholars, we are told, declare that "the intent of the framers" is not clear. (Now where have we heard that before?) Professor Sara Duggin of the Catholic (no less!) University, having "studied the issue extensively" plants her learned posterior firmly on the fence, as lawyers invariably do when nobody is paying them to pontificate one way or the other. "It is not," opines the Prof, " a slam-dunk situation." Metaphors, especially sporting ones, always bring a lambent clarity to legal conundra, don't you find? Atlanta attorney, Jill Prior, we discover, delved into the question twenty years ago in a Yale Law Journal article. She thinks McCain should be o.k. but lectures us mere mortals that "[i]t is certainly not a frivolous issue".

Of course, proclaiming something "not frivolous", even while symbolically wagging your Ivy League Law School finger at the rest of us, doesn't prevent it from being so.

The only people who take lawyers more seriously than lawyers themselves are defendants in class action suits. All this torturous parsing and analysis is the 21st century equivalent of how many angels Duns Scotus could squeeze onto the head of that darn pin St. Thomas Aquinus lent him! Members of the Bar are now in the role once played by the medieval Schoolmen while the Constitution and the correspondence of the Framers take the place of Holy Scripture and the ruminations of the early Fathers of the Church. How very gosh-darned American! If it goes all the way to the Supreme Court we can happily expect the Becloaked Ones to find constitutional penumbras, emanations and even, perhaps, an ectoplasm or two to resolve the thorny question.

This whole non-story is a futile exercise in quasi-legal obfuscation for nakedly party political purposes. The basic premise is ludicrous. A man, who, while fighting for his country, barely escapes death, suffers severe injuries and endures the torments of the damned in the cess-pit of the Hanoi Hilton at the hands of America's sworn enemies, is barred from being Commander in Chief because he isn't American enough! And all this on a technicality which can only be conjured into turgid existence by an obnoxious combination of legalistic nitpicking and bloody-minded partisanship. To add further to this foul miasma the man in question would not be vulnerable to such judicial expropriation of his birthright but for the fact that his father was in foreign parts on military service protecting the country which is now to stiff-arm his son for that very reason!

Don Nickles, a former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, tore the mask off all this pious tut-tutting, though he didn't quite know it, when he innocently remarked to the Times that, though he believed McCain should have no constitutional difficulties, "I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if somebody is going to try to make an issue out of it”. Earth to Don! Earth to Don! This is exactly what's happening under your nose, even as the NYT scribe jots down your words of concern while searching the trusting expression in your eyes for any hint of the bitter cynicism his paper has long inspired in anyone decent enough to look askance at Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Yup, pardners, the Hole in the Donut Gang are back in town and shootin' up the saloon agin! They're a-yellin' an' a-hollerin' that there's gold in them thar canals way down in Pan-am-ay an' they say they panned fur it till they got the'selves a passel o' paydirt an' now they're gonna go an' buy the'selves a great big white house in one o' them thar big cities back East an' invite all their swanky tenderfoot friends in an' have the'selves a right ol' hootenanny fur the next four, mebee even eight years. They shore talk big, them Hole in the Donut Gang!

They sure do, old-timer, but, take it from me, all they have for their efforts is a pan-full of mud. And, believe me, slinging mud about is no way to get yourself a White House.

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