"Birthers" say Obama isn't "natural born" and can't be president. Let's make their whole delusional argument moot
By Michael Lind
July 28, 2009 | The presidential election of 2009 is the first in American history in which questions about the citizenship of both major party candidates were raised. Article II of the Constitution says that "No person except a natural-born citizen ... shall be eligible to the office of president." During the campaign, some argued that this disqualified John McCain, because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone where his father, a naval officer, was stationed. Also during the campaign, some conservatives raised questions about whether Obama was born on U.S. soil. Since Obama's election as president, those critics have spawned an entire movement of "birthers" who have displaced "tea-baggers" on the wingnut right.
The Constitution excludes the third category of American citizens -- naturalized immigrants -- from ever being eligible to become president of the United States (or vice-president, inasmuch as the vice-president, who might inherit the office, must meet all of the qualifications of a president). Absent an amendment to the Constitution, Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic governor of Michigan who was born in Canada, can never become president of the United States, and the Austrian-born governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, can never become terminator in chief.