McCain knifes Cruz: Um, I don't know if he's a natural-born citizen of the U.S.

Via BuzzFeed, this makes three big names from three very different sectors of the party suddenly questioning Cruz’s eligibility. McCain represents the establishmentarians; Rand Paul represents libertarians; and Donald Trump represents … whatever the hell Trumpism is. It seems we’ve reached the “any weapon to hand” stage among Cruz’s political enemies. Which is interesting in ol’ Mav’s case, since his 2008 campaign against Obama will forever be remembered by grassroots righties for his refusal to go kitchen-sink on O. In the end, I guess the “wacko birds” were the real threat all along. May the McCain/Paul/Trump alliance last a thousand years.

The defense here, I assume, will be that the Supreme Court has never ruled on the “natural-born” clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, therefore McCain’s answer is correct. No one knows what the Court would do! But that’s too cute by half: There are statutes and scholarly opinions he could have cited if he wanted to downplay this line of attack against Cruz. Congress’s own statutory definition of citizenship by birth is expansive, extending it to children (like Cruz) of a single citizen-parent born abroad so long as the parent resided in the U.S. for some period of time. The idea that there are five votes on the Court to read a narrower definition into the Constitution when the text itself does nothing to define “natural-born” seems dubious to me, but that doesn’t mean Cruz-haters aren’t going to try. Why, here’s one well-known left-wing troll now promising to do just what Donald Trump wants and sue Cruz over his eligibility:

In addition to the question of whether Cruz’s birth in Canada disqualifies him from being considered a natural-born citizen, for which there are clashing historical claims, Grayson notes there’s disagreement about whether both parents of U.S. citizens born overseas must be citizens.

And then there’s Cruz’s mother, Eleanor Darragh Wilson.

Grayson says Wilson may have forfeited her U.S. citizenship by taking a Canadian oath of citizenship, and that he’s seen no evidence she actually was born in the U.S.

Cruz’s mother “may have elected to give up her U.S. citizenship — she wasn’t there on a visitor’s visa for five years, that’s for sure,” he says.

Grayson says “if his mother, who clearly worked in Canada for years and years, did so while becoming a Canadian citizen and taking an oath, which is how you do it in Canada, she lost her citizenship by U.S. law, specifically Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

Grayson says he’ll sue if Cruz wins the nomination, which makes it even more unlikely that a court would rule against Cruz. Imagine the public outcry if a major-party nominee was suddenly booted from the ballot months before the general election on a highly questionable, crabbed reading of a vague constitutional term. Who would replace Cruz as nominee? How many Cruz supporters would stay home in utter disgust at having the prize ripped out of their guy’s hands by judges, egged on by Cruz-haters from the left and right? No court wants to insert itself into a national election that way. But then, I doubt Grayson really believes he’d win. The point of the lawsuit is the same as Trump’s goal in nudging Cruz to go get a declaratory judgment about his eligibility: Both of them want to create enough of a cloud over Cruz’s status to discourage some voters and tilt a close election against Cruz. That makes sense for a hyper-partisan Democrat like Grayson who wants his party to hold the White House. What’s Trump’s — and Paul’s, and McCain’s — excuse?

Update: Fair point from some Cruz fans on Twitter: The best way for a conservative to endear himself to the base is to be shivved by John McCain. If anything, this will steer some righties into circling the wagons around Cruz. How does that play for Trump?

Update: Lotta Cruz-hating Democrats joining in on the fun today…

…oh, and of course, Donald Trump too:

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