The Problem With Running For President in a Nativist Party (When Your Name is Rafael Cruz)
It was really only a matter of time before Ted Cruz, presidential candidate and most hated man in the U.S. senate, would fall victim to his own party’s anti-immigrant fervor. Climbing in the polls and threatening the Trump campaign in Iowa, Cruz has become the target of accusations and insinuations that the conservative firebrand, born of a Cuban father and American mother on Canadian soil (Calgary), does not meet the Constitutional requirement that a president be a “natural born citizen.”
From the left, it’s deliciously ironic to see this sort of comeuppance for man who sought to reassure GOP voters of his anti-immigrant bonafides by paraphrasing George Wallace’s “segregation forever speech” for The New York Times. And of course, there’s more than just a little satisfaction to be gained by watching the party that spawned an industry of nutty conspiracy theorists dedicated to casting doubt on Barack Obama’s eligibility now setting its sights on destroying one of its own.
While questions about Cruz’s eligibility have popped up now and again for years, this latest round of doubt sowing started with Donald Trump, who in his typically disingenuos, trademarked passive-aggressive way insisted that he was only looking out for the good of the Republican Party:
“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem. It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head. I’d hate to see something like that get in his way. But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”
Not long after Trump lobbed his non-accusation accusation right-wing harpy Ann Coulter chimed in in more direct fashion, explicitly proclaiming through her twitter account that Cruz was not at natural born citizen.
NYT: Cruz was born outside the U.S. to 1 American parent: “Under the Constitution this makes him a ‘natural born citizen.’” Absolutely false
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 6, 2016
And now the floodgates seem to be opening with Rand Paul and John McCain questioning the Texas senator’s eligibility to hold the highest office in the land. The McCain attack is particularly amusing, given that the Arizona senator was himself born abroad and ran for president nonetheless. The distinction, as McCain sees it, is that he was born in a U.S. Territory (a military base in the Panama Canal zone):
“Barry Goldwater ran for president; was born in Arizona when it was a territory. The Panama Canal was a territory of the United States of America. That’s different than being born on foreign soil. I think there is a question. I am not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think its illegitimate to look into it.”
In 2008, when John McCain decided to seek the presidency, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama co-sponsored a Senate resolution affirming the Arizona senator’s eligibility to run for president. Today, Texas senator Ted Cruz is seeing questions about his eligibility being raised within his own party. I guess that’s what happens when you set out to promote your personal career by trashing everyone around you, then cynically shut down the government to establish your own “holier than thou” ideological purity, while forcing others in your party to do the thankless work of keeping the country from a disastrous default.
I think I’ll just sit back an enjoy the show.