There was a fleeting moment around this point eight years ago in which some questioned John McCain’s eligibility for the presidency. The Republican senator, well on his way to becoming his party’s nominee, was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, prompting some pointless questions about whether he was literally a “natural-born citizen.”
Few took those questions seriously; even McCain’s harshest critics dismissed the concerns out of hand; and the Senate quickly approved a resolution – written and sponsored by Democrat Claire McCaskill – declaring, “John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born citizen’ under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States.” It passed without opposition.
The recent history adds a degree of irony to McCain’s comments about Ted Cruz yesterday.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said he doesn’t know if the Canadian-born Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is eligible to be president, saying the Supreme Court might have to decide if Cruz is eligible to be president.“I don’t know the answer to that,” said McCain on the Chris Merrill Show on KFYI550 on Wednesday of Cruz’s eligibility.
As the BuzzFeed report added, McCain went on to say, in reference to Cruz, “I think it’s worth looking into.” McCain added he thinks Cruz should try to get ahead of these eligibility issues, though without access to a time machine, how he’d go about doing this is a bit of a mystery.
It’s a genuine shame that Donald Trump has pushed this issue into the spotlight, because as best as I can tell, this entire line of attack is misguided. For all intents and purposes, natural-born citizens are those who were citizens at the time of their birth. This applies to Cruz. End of story.
I can think of about a thousand reasons to be concerned about a Cruz presidency, but his eligibility isn’t one of them.
What I find more interesting, however, is Cruz’s sudden need for friends in high places.
With the developments surrounding McCain in 2008 still in mind, the New York Times asked this morning, “Now the question is, will the Senate again weigh in to clarify the constitutional status of another one of its members and declare Mr. Cruz eligible to be president?”
The answer is, almost certainly not. Among senators from both parties, Ted Cruz is extremely unpopular. He’s gone out of his way to alienate his colleagues, pick fights with his own party leadership, and generally make as few friends in the chamber as possible during his tenure.
On the campaign trail, this serves as a point of pride. Cruz can, in complete honesty, boast to the Republican base that the GOP establishment inside the Beltway has nothing but disdain for him – and the feeling is mutual. John McCain himself once referred to Cruz as a “wacko bird,” which is why it’s not too surprising that the Arizona Republican was needlessly adding fuel to a foolish fire yesterday. He just doesn’t seem to like his colleague very much.
Right about now, Cruz would probably love to see the same level of Senate support McCain received eight years ago, but he shouldn’t hold his breath. As the Times added, for most senators in both parties, “assisting Mr. Cruz would amount to a foreign concept.”