Constitution and Editor Fail

From The New York Times:

Orly Taitz, a California dentist and lawyer who is among the leading voices in the anti-Obama movement, made her case in a combative interview on MSNBC.

Obama is completely illegitimate as a U.S. president for two reasons not only because he did not provide the place of his birth, but also because both parents have to be U.S. citizens, Ms. Taitz said.

Ms. — and I use that term loosely — Taitz is, of course, completely wrong. Not only was Mr. Obama born in Hawaii, but parentage has nothing to do with it (and if it did, a large number of our Presidents would have been ineligible!).

The Constitution states, in Article II, Section 1:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

“Natural-born citizen” introduces (possibly deliberately) some ambiguity that was clarified by the Fourteenth Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

It’s quite clear, then, that one’s parentage has absolutely nothing to do with one’s eligibility for either United States citizenship or for the office of President of the United States. So why would the Times dignify Taitz’s completely specious argument by using the entire quote?

While I understand that the ellipsis can be — and often is — deliberately intended to mislead (see any number of movie review snippets used by studios desperate for some sort of positive spin on a terrible film), and given the requirement that at least some of Taitz’s remarks be used, I probably would have edited it to read as follows:

“Obama is completely illegitimate as a U.S. president … because he did not provide the place of his birth, Ms. Taitz said. His father was never a U.S. citizen. He was in the United States on a student visa.

Everything after the first sentence could be dropped if the Times editors were concerned about making Taitz “look bad” (although, really, including the entire quote made her look much kookier) without simultaneously dragging down the credibility of the newspaper by dignifying such a ridiculous argument.

posted by Chris on 04 August 2009 at 1259 in politix

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