The 28th Amendment
William Safire [RSS] becomes the latest pundit to endorse the idea that naturalized citizens should be eligible for the presidency. Of course, besides believing that “nativist bias” has no place in America, he has a political motivation: he wants to see
me Arnold Schwarzenegger pursue the nation’s highest office.
The argument is generally solid, but Safire could have done a better job of teasing out the Democratic stake on this issue. He notes that
After ratification of the 28th Amendment in 2007, I envision a G.O.P. ticket the next year with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain on top and Schwarzenegger as running-mate. For Democrats, Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton for president, Peter Jennings (Canadian-born) for v.p.
Though I appreciate the nice little jab at the anchor’s impartiality, it nonetheless ignores some rising Democratic stars with immigrant backgrounds. As George Will wrote two years ago, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm could be a serious contender were it not for her own Canadian heritage. That’s why, contrary to Safire’s description, the movement is now called “Amend for Arnold and Jen,” not just “Amend for Arnold.” It may be a simple cover to avoid the appearance of partisanship, but I think it’s safe to say that Democrats have as much interest in expanding eligibility and appealing to immigrants as Republicans do.
On another note, wouldn’t it be interesting to see George W. Bush take up this cause? John Kerry slammed him for supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment and using the constitution to divide the country. A pro-naturalization amendment would allow the president to cast himself as a uniter. It would also narrow the gap between his team and Arnold’s team — a relationship that hasn’t always been warm.
Lastly, Safire writes:
Even children born abroad of U.S. citizens have fallen under the shadow of Article II; this has caused pregnant women to race back to our shores to make certain their children’s political potential is not somehow beclouded. [Emphasis added.]
I’m sure that expecting mothers have a whole host of reasons for wanting their children to be born stateside. But this statement just strikes me as a bit over the top; one would have to be pretty consumed with politics to be “caused” to “race back,” all the while fretting about a kid’s rise to power.
We’ll notch that line to artistic license.