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Joseph Farah
Joseph Farah
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Why Are We Debating Eligibility?


I'm gratified by the new national debate about Barack Obama's inability or unwillingness to prove his constitutional eligibility. It's about time.

For those of us who have been investigating this issue for three years, it's gratifying to see the story getting the attention it deserves. However, the debate has veered slightly off the rails.

All the recent attention has been focused on where Obama was born. But knowing where he was born may not be enough to determine if he is indeed constitutionally eligible to be president — not by a long shot.

The Constitution requires presidents to be "natural born citizens." That is not just a matter of being born in the United States.

The national dialogue should be focused on the meaning of that term and how it applies to Obama — no matter where he was born. What did the Founding Fathers have in mind when they ratified the Constitution?

Though they didn't define it specifically, it is not difficult to learn what they intended — that no future president should have divided loyalties or even the appearance of divided loyalties.

There are precedents to support this idea — including one as recent as the 2008 election. Most people have forgotten the major media controversy over another presidential candidate's constitutional eligibility that year. His name was John McCain. The New York Times, CNN and other major news organizations raised serious and prolonged questions about his eligibility, ultimately resulting in a U.S. Senate hearing to deal with the issue.

It was, of course, widely known McCain was born outside the U.S. — in Panama where his father was serving as a U.S. Navy officer. So the Senate asked McCain to provide, among other evidence, the one indispensable document necessary to determine his eligibility — his long-form birth certificate.

Indeed, it confirmed that he was born in Panama, not the United States. But the Senate resolved unanimously — with Barack Obama as one of the sponsors — that McCain was eligible because both his parents were U.S. citizens. That was the standard they set.

Now let's apply that same standard to Obama. Who were his parents? He claims they were a Kenyan citizen visiting the U.S. to attend college and a young woman who had not been a citizen living in the U.S. for five years after the age of 14.

If Obama is telling the truth, it's hard to see how he could be considered a "natural born citizen." Without question, his father conferred United Kingdom citizenship upon him.

But how would that meet the standards of the Founding Fathers? In fact, it would seem to disqualify him as one with potentially "divided loyalties."

But it gets worse for Obama, who, by the way, has still not offered the proof necessary to show he was even born in the U.S.

His mother then married another man, Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian citizen. And her son followed him to Indonesia, living and schooling there for years.

Soetoro also reportedly adopted his stepson, though no adoption papers have been forthcoming, and his stepson began using the name Barry Soetoro.

If, indeed, the adoption took place, the original birth certificate — wherever it might be — should have been changed to reflect it with Lolo Soetoro listed as the father.

Now that we have seen what purports to be the actual long-form birth certificate, we see that it actually lists Barack Hussein Obama Sr. as the father. No matter really — Obama or Soetoro, both fathers are foreigners, not U.S. citizens.

So why would the standard for Obama be so different from the standard set by the U.S. Senate in 2008 for McCain?

Those insisting Obama is eligible now hang to a very thin thread — his still unproven birth in Hawaii. However, if that is the new standard for "natural born citizenship," we have deviated far from the standard set by the Founding Fathers.

Let me ask you a question: Recent court rulings suggest that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen. Even the children of migrant workers from foreign countries born in the U.S. are what we call "anchor babies." Do you think that's what the Founders had in mind when they placed the requirement of "natural born citizen" in the Constitution? Of course not.

Thanks to ill-advised court rulings, "anchor babies" may be citizens, but surely they are not "natural born citizens" eligible for the presidency. "Natural born citizenship" is certainly a higher standard than simple "citizenship" — achieved through accident of birth or even naturalization.

That's why it's frustrating to me that our national debate about Obama's eligibility is fixated on where he was born.

The release of the long-form birth certificate raises more questions than it answers. Though many in the media parrot the line that a Hawaiian birth settles the matter, it truly doesn't.

It begs the question: Is he a "natural born citizen"? Does he meet the standard of the Founders or even the standard of the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate in 2008?

The answer, from my perspective, is no. If the once elusive birth certificate is legit, it provides confirmation that he isn't and never was.

To find out more about Joseph Farah and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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