Times: John McCain not a real American?

posted at 10:16 am on February 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The staff at the New York Times has burned the midnight oil trying to find ways to derail John McCain’s campaign. After endorsing him in the primary, the paper then ran an unsubstantiated smear against him as a philanderer. Now they ask whether he is eligible for the office, given his birth in the Panama Canal zone while his father served the country:

The question 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? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.

Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.

“There are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,” said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. “It is not a slam-dunk situation.”

It’s a slam-dunk to the millions of military families whose service to this country should have left then with no doubts about their children being relegated to second-class citizenry. They sacrificed enough for their country without having to sacrifice the futures of their children. Any other conclusion would amount to a penalty for military service on those who did not volunteer.

The Founding Fathers recognized this. They passed a bill in 1790, three years after the adoption of the Constitution, which made clear that “natural born” applied to children born of American citizens “outside the limits of the United States”. That law remains in effect and has never been challenged. At the least, it speaks to the intent of the founders when they used the term “natural born” in the Constitution.

It’s beyond absurd to argue that John McCain doesn’t qualify to run as an American for the presidency. The candidate or party that files a lawsuit to challenge him on this point runs the risk of alienating a large swath of the public who have served this nation in uniform, in diplomacy, and in government.

Besides, if the Times thinks this to be an issue, then why did they endorse McCain in January? Didn’t they bother to do their research on him then?


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This kind of reporting is nothing more than anti-military campaign. That somehow the child of a deployed servicemember born outside the U.S. is somehow less of an American than those born within the U.S. borders. That children of illegal aliens (anchor babies) born inside U.S. borders is more of an American than a child of U.S. servicemembers serving abroad?

Slipshod journalism at it’s finest….

Hog Wild on February 28, 2008 at 9:19 PM

One is reminded of another Arizonan– the redoubtable Barry Goldwater. The man ran for President in 1964, and nobody questioned the fact that he was not born in the States– but in what then was the Arizona Territory. Of course the Canal Zone was the territory of these United States. And if he’d been born a few years earlier, Barak! Obama (sorry, a bit of a sinus thing going around these days) would likewise have been born in the Territory of Hawaii. But for that reason nobody would deny the man’s eligibility to run for the office– his capacity being another matter altogether.

Scribbler on February 28, 2008 at 11:14 PM

Good ol’ drive-by media. And these morons snivel and wonder why the military overwhelmingly votes Republican.

If they truly wanted an answer, they should have asked the Obamanation or the Seahag if they thought McCain (and any child of a military member born outside the US) was qualified.

A smear campaign based on rumor, and a whisper campaign for the Republican candidate.

While on the left, with hard facts such as laundering money through Chinese dishwashers…maybe a mention on the back page…for a day.

How’s that stock price Pinch?

91Veteran on February 28, 2008 at 11:58 PM

G. Charles, tell me why I am not correct. McCain’s parents filed paperwork to declare John McCain a citizen of the United States. By definition that means he is naturalized.

Richard Disney on February 29, 2008 at 12:09 AM

Richard Disney is not correct. Americans born to American citizens in overseas embassies, military bases, or other U.S. territory have no need to be naturalized. They are citizens at birth.

The law code states that there are at least 8 ways to be born a citizen, with no need for naturalization. McCain fits at least three of the different categories for not requiring naturalization.

G. Charles on February 28, 2008 at 5:06 PM

yes. as i said in my original comment when this item was in “headlines”, i was born to U.S. citizens on a U.S. airforce base in spain. i am most definitely and without a shadow of a doubt “natural born” and NOT “naturalized”. no “grey area” whatsoever. furthermore, logic should tell us that there is even less “grey area” in mccain’s case, since he was born not just on a U.S. base in a foreign country like me, but on a U.S. base in a U.S. territory.

but hey, who said logic has anything to do with bureaucracy, much less with the NYT’s editorial process!

homesickamerican on February 29, 2008 at 1:25 AM

John McCain is a real American, but he ain’t no real conservative.

Dave R. on February 29, 2008 at 1:34 AM

Besides, if the Times thinks this to be an issue, then why did they endorse McCain in January? Didn’t they bother to do their research on him then?

They were waiting until he was in.
I bet they have a whole lot of stories like this,,,, and the lobby lady affair,,,,
That’ll come out between now and November

We oughtta start a pool on how many McCain hit peices they do before the election and the winner can get a genuine Michelle Malkin autographed picture,,,,,

Through their e-mail

Chuck on February 29, 2008 at 2:10 AM

You know it seems strange to me that a person born of two american citizens can not be a ” NATURAL BORN CITIZEN ” while at the same time an illegal mexican can give birth on U.S. soil and the child is given that right of birth.

The laws that currently allow ILLEGALS TO HAVE NATURAL BORN CHILDRED was meant to allow freed slaves and thier children to be treated as american citizens. AND NOTHING MORE.

Get real folks. If McCain is not an american then I just do not know who is an american citizen.

“thats all i have to say about that”
forrest gump

TomLawler on February 29, 2008 at 3:26 AM

“Of course the Canal Zone was the territory of these United States. And if he’d been born a few years earlier, Barak! Obama (sorry, a bit of a sinus thing going around these days) would likewise have been born in the Territory of Hawaii.”
Both wrong! The canal zone was rented from the Nation of Pananma but was never a territory of the U.S., ALSO Obama was born in 1961, after Hawaii became a state.

Squid Shark on February 29, 2008 at 5:43 AM

Belay my last about Hawaii, sorry :)

Squid Shark on February 29, 2008 at 5:49 AM

It’s simple: Parents are US citizens = children are US citizens regardless of where they are born.

jimbo2008 on February 29, 2008 at 8:30 AM

Please, please, please NYT, keep pushing this issue with McCain. Then we can start bringing in to discussion sluts from south of the border wwho want to drop their baby load on this side of the border and continue to show who you are.

jed58 on February 29, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Welcome to MSM politics Mr. McSham. You lay down with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas. You are now paying for the ENDORSEMENT. First payment, many to come.

pueblo1032 on February 29, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Has anyone seen a copy of Obama’s birth certificate? It’s too bad he was born after Hawaii became state. /s Kinda.

Is McCaskill’s Sense of the Senate going to lead to any other discussions? Are they still pushing to get Ahnold to the Oval Office?

Connie on February 29, 2008 at 3:05 PM

The Naturalization Act of 1790, which was passed by the first sitting of the US Congress, declared:
.
“And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens; Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident of the United States.”
.
Since John McCain is the son and grandson of US Navy Admirals, we can reasonably assume that his father was a “resident of the United States”.
.
Now, I found that information about natural born citizenship after a 3 minute Google search. That the Times apparently did no such search, nor apparently consulted the Times’ own legal staff says to me that either:
1. The writing and/or editing staff of the New Times are incompetent;
AND/OR
2. The writing and/or editing staff of the New Times are so biased against John McCain that they will write this so-obviously wrong and even wilfully dishonest article.
.
Had I any respect left for the New York Times before I read this, which I didn’t, the Times would have just lost it. As it is, the story merely adds to my contempt for that wretchedly biased birdcage liner.

DavePa on February 29, 2008 at 3:23 PM

So that’s why McCain believes what he does about illegal immigration: he’s from south of the border too.

bobthepeeler on February 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM

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