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Is Obama Below the Constitutional Age Limit for President?

A non-wooden, non-formalistic view from Steve Calabresi in the Chicago Tribune.

Srsly:
180 PWNAGE!!!!!
7.22.2008 3:09pm
Oren:
Sound like a good strategy for McCain. After all, he has to stretch the definition of "natural born citizen" to be in the race in the first place.
7.22.2008 3:11pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I want to know how many states require his full name Barack Hussein Obama to appear on the ballot!

Wouldn't want some poser Barack Fred Obama to claim the victory.
7.22.2008 3:11pm
Oren:
See also, link (SSRN).
7.22.2008 3:11pm
bigchris1313 (mail):
That is pure win.
7.22.2008 3:13pm
John McCall (mail):
TL;DR. Mildly amusing point segues directly into McCain attack ad.
7.22.2008 3:14pm
Crafty Hunter (www):
A better question is whether the man is even a natural citizen. The birth certificate he supports appears to be a brazen forgery. What is he hiding? Does he think if he's elected unConstitutionally, that the Supreme Court won't dare to remove him from office after his true birth status becomes known?

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/12993.htm
7.22.2008 3:19pm
Angus:
As another commenter stated, what began as something mildly amusing became the same jumble of mud-flinging garbage and exaggerations you can read on far-right blogs. I haven't ready anything else by Calabresi other than this article, but from this one the only thing I can conclude is that he's a dumb hack.
7.22.2008 3:26pm
Oren:
Crafty, if that's right then we have an unprecedented election on our hand -- both candidates are not eligible for office!
7.22.2008 3:27pm
Adam K:

A better question is whether the man is even a natural citizen.


If your thesaurus lists "raving wingnut" as a synonym for "better," I think someone might have pulled a bit of a gag gift on you.
7.22.2008 3:34pm
Smarter than Calabresi:
The purpose of the age limit is to prevent people from winning elections on their names alone. See Akhil Amar, Reading the Constitution (2005). Barack Obama is hardly sweeping this one on the strength of his noble pedigree.
7.22.2008 3:34pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
My third cousin's father-in-law's roommate at Yale says that not only are McCain and Obama ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States, but that they have supplied twenty-thousand black helicopters to the 200,000 Chinese police in Mexico, who are preparing to conduct door-to-door gun confiscations in order to further the Illuminati plot for one world government.
7.22.2008 3:38pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This article shows nothing more than that Guido Calabresi's great intellect didn't make it to the next generation. This is the work of a sloganeering talk radio host, not a serious legal scholar.

EVERY advocate of a "living Constitution" draws a distinction between broad, sweeping guarantees in the Constitution (e.g., "freedom of speech") and narrow, procedural ones (35 years old to be President). The broad sweeping guarantees can get broad interpretations, the narrow, procedural ones can't. Not only does Steven Breyer, identified by name in the piece (and who has never in his adult life signed his name to an argument as simplistic as the one Calabresi makes), believe that, but even guys like William Brennan and William O. Douglas and Earl Warren believed it.

The worst part of this is that conservatives believe it. They really do believe that judicial interpretation is a contest between people who hew strictly to the language and people who ignore it. Shame on Calabresi for feeding that ignorance rather than correcting it.
7.22.2008 3:38pm
Old33 (mail):
Stephen Calabesi is better than this. This op-ed, which was an attempt at snark, is just pathetic.
7.22.2008 3:39pm
FantasiaWHT:
It starts good but it devolves quickly. Learn to stop when you're ahead, fella.
7.22.2008 3:41pm
FantasiaWHT:

EVERY advocate of a "living Constitution" draws a distinction between broad, sweeping guarantees in the Constitution (e.g., "freedom of speech") and narrow, procedural ones (35 years old to be President).


The XI amendment (after all, a pretty straightforward &basic procedural statement) begs to differ.
7.22.2008 3:42pm
theobromophile (www):
Thanks for the laugh. :)

By the way, you mean age "minimum," not age "limit," right? It's McCain who would fall under the latter prohibition. :)

Dilan Epser - not really. There are a host of liberal pet policies that are not even in the Constitution (abortion, welfare, etc) that are nevertheless given broad, sweeping Constitutional protection by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, your broad/narrow distinction doesn't really hold in light of the recent Heller dissents. "...the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." How does that fit in under your framework?
7.22.2008 3:42pm
JK:
Utterly Sophomoric
7.22.2008 3:44pm
Michael J.Z Mannheimer (mail):
This ridiculous rant is unworthy of Stephen Calabresi. Not a single person on the left or the right advocates a "flexible" or "empathic" interpretation of clauses in the Constitution that are free from ambiguity, and Calabresi knows it. "Thirty-five years" is a far cry from "due process of law" or "cruel and unusual punishment." This is a pure straw-man argument. It is sad when respected constitutional scholars shill for politicians.
7.22.2008 3:44pm
krs:
It's a joke. Chill.
7.22.2008 3:50pm
Hoosier:
"My third cousin's father-in-law's roommate at Yale says that not only are McCain and Obama ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States, but that they have supplied twenty-thousand black helicopters to the 200,000 Chinese police in Mexico, who are preparing to conduct door-to-door gun confiscations in order to further the Illuminati plot for one world government."

You didn't mention the ZIONISTS!

Cleary, you are trying to cover their scent!
7.22.2008 3:54pm
frankcross (mail):
Calabresi's a very good guy, but when he writes for conservative media outlets he seems to turn into a partisan hack. I really don't get it.
7.22.2008 3:56pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Not a single person on the left or the right advocates a "flexible" or "empathic" interpretation of clauses in the Constitution that are free from ambiguity, and Calabresi knows it.

So what do you think Obama is trying to signal to Democratic primary voters when he says he doesn't believe the constitution should be interpreted "woodenly" or "formalistically"?
7.22.2008 3:57pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):

A better question is whether the man is even a natural citizen. The birth certificate he supports appears to be a brazen forgery. What is he hiding? Does he think if he's elected unConstitutionally, that the Supreme Court won't dare to remove him from office after his true birth status becomes known?

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/12993.htm


If Techdude291 said it, who amongst us could dissent?*?
7.22.2008 3:58pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Calabresi's a very good guy, but when he writes for conservative media outlets he seems to turn into a partisan hack.

ZOMG. Good people write partisan snark for conservative media outlets? Nuh-uh.
7.22.2008 4:00pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
He makes an amusing point about textualism and lack thereof. It probably would have been best to stop at the third paragraph, at the latest.
7.22.2008 4:04pm
Terrivus:
Calabresi's a very good guy, but when he writes for conservative media outlets he seems to turn into a partisan hack. I really don't get it.

Conservative media outlets like... the Chicago Tribune?

Calabresi's piece started out strong, with the right amount of snark, but it went off the rails a little when he made his arguments for "youthfulness." Then it started sounding less like snark and more like political hackery. And the last paragraph destroys all subtlety with a large sledgehammer.

The result is that you can't really tell it's intended to be a joke piece, poking fun at "flexible" views of the Constitution. Which I'm pretty sure is what Calabresi intended.

Great idea, not great execution.
7.22.2008 4:05pm
Randy R. (mail):
If he had stopped at the first few paragraphs, it would have made a nice ironic critique of how some people interprete the constitution. But then it just fell into a parady of itself. He should have quit while ahead.

Sheesh -- it seems every conservative thinks the way to win the younger generation is to be the next Stephen Colbert, but they don't have enough of a sense of humor to pull it off.
7.22.2008 4:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
BHO could end any doubt over his birth certificate by simply telling the office in Hawaii to release a certified copy of his original, or permit the press to inspect the original. Is the thinking that no one who dare pull off such a hoax? At what point in the election cycle does a candidate authenticate his natural birth and to whom?
7.22.2008 4:12pm
rarango (mail):
With these two losers, I only WISH both candidates are ineligible.
7.22.2008 4:15pm
Liberal Textualist:
Calabresi's argument holds about as much water as the argument that originalists must believe that the right to bear arms guarantees the right to bear muzzle-loaded muskets. We now know how Justice Scalia feels about the latter.
7.22.2008 4:16pm
D.A.:
On this logic, McCain can't be president either; he's passed away already.
7.22.2008 4:20pm
JohnCK (mail):
It is a good thing that Obamabots have such a good sense of humor about this kind of stuff. Why don't you people just get it over with start wearing brown shirts and march in formation to his convention speech out at Triumph of the Will, I mean the DNC this summer?
7.22.2008 4:21pm
Jam:
Can a Puertorican run for POTUS?
7.22.2008 4:23pm
cjwynes (mail):

notwithstanding the evolving standards of mental acuity that mark the progress of a maturing society


LOL, this line is cuh-lassic. Zing of the Day!
7.22.2008 4:24pm
Patrick216:
Calabresi's argument fails, in my mind, because it is based on the argument that a 35 year old in 1789 is the "equivalent" of a 50 year old today due to the fact that life expectancies have improved. He surmises that the constitution was constructed to make sure that inexperienced people don't become president. Fine. But he offers no explanation for why it is that a 35 year old in 1789 has any more meaningful "experience" than a 50 year old, or 46 year old, today.

Still, I took the argument as a tongue in cheek way of demonstrating to the general public the difference between originalism/textualism and liberal interpretive techniques. Beneath Calabresi, to be sure, but it is what it is.
7.22.2008 4:28pm
SATA_Interface:
This is why liberals get the Daily Show and Colbert Report for pundit comedians, while conservatives get Rush and Bill O for their pundit comedians.
7.22.2008 4:29pm
Brett:
EVERY advocate of a "living Constitution" draws a distinction between broad, sweeping guarantees in the Constitution (e.g., "freedom of speech") and narrow, procedural ones (35 years old to be President).


Of course, what Dilan conveniently neglects to mention is that the living constitutionalists constistently fail to produce any principled definition of what constitutes a "broad, sweeping guarantee" deserving of generious and flexible construction, versus what constitutes a "narrow, procedural one" deserving of textualist rigor. Thus are provisions which are self-evidently broad and sweeping -- say, the Second Freaking Amendment -- read to be narrow and precedural (e.g., Justice Breyer's shameful dissent in Heller), while provisions which are self-evidently narrow and procedural read to be broad and sweeping. All dependent on the preferred policy outcomes of the particular living constitutionalist.

I'll be happy to believe that judicial interpretation isn't actually a contest between people who hew strictly to the text and people who ignore it when that's not actually the case.
7.22.2008 4:29pm
Sarcastro (www):
I think we should analyze this joke more, to find the funny! Analysis is the key to humor, after all.

Either that or skip any levity and yell about politics.

Hey - did you guys know Barak Obama's middle name is Hussein? I'll bet that's what he's hidign on his birth certificate!
7.22.2008 4:36pm
Mr. X (www):
Hmm, which is more dangerous? The guy who is a similar age as Teddy Roosevelt or the guy who wants to be Teddy Roosevelt.

At least McCain's gunboat diplomacy won't be a youthful mistake, it'll be deliberate idiocy.
7.22.2008 4:39pm
stunned:
HAW HAW HAW HAW. And did you know he's BLACK?
7.22.2008 4:41pm
Did you know?:
Before Lenin was a communist, he was SARCASTIC! Eliminate sarcasm, the gateway to COMMUNISM!

BAN SARCASTRO BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
7.22.2008 4:44pm
Angus:
BHO could end any doubt over his birth certificate by simply telling the office in Hawaii to release a certified copy of his original, or permit the press to inspect the original. Is the thinking that no one who dare pull off such a hoax?

I've never seen the "original" of my birth certificate, nor have my parents to the best of their knowledge. Whenever I've needed a "birth certificate" for something I've always received a printout similar to the one Obama posted on his website, albeit from another state. Does that mean my U.S. citizenship is also suspect?
7.22.2008 4:48pm
corneille1640 (mail):

Roosevelt engaged in gunboat diplomacy with Latin American countries such as Panama that tarred America's reputation in that part of the world for the next 100 years. We are still living with the legacy of T.R.'s youthful foreign policy excesses.

Maybe, but TR wasn't the first to use force, or the threat of force, to enforce U.S. prerogatives in Latin America. I doubt if TR's willingness to follow the precedent of McKinley (Sp.-Am War, Platt Amendment) and Cleveland (Olney's "United States' fiat is law" doctrine arising out of the first Venezuelan crisis) was due to his youth.

Then again, the article was written as a joke, so as a joke may I take it.
7.22.2008 4:50pm
DJR:
By all means, a good strategy for McCain is to focus on the candidates' relative ages. Also, he should focus on the teenagers who walk across lawns on their way to school issue along with the issue of Americans falling and not being able to get up.
7.22.2008 4:53pm
Randy R. (mail):
"I've never seen the "original" of my birth certificate, nor have my parents to the best of their knowledge. Whenever I've needed a "birth certificate" for something I've always received a printout similar to the one Obama posted on his website, albeit from another state."

Oh Angus. Don't you realize that even if Obama were to release his original birth certificate, he would have to kill the doctor who signed it, and then kill all the people in the office who may have seen it so that his fake certificate won't be challenged by anyone?

Of course, he can count on the liberal media to not report on all those murders.
7.22.2008 5:02pm
Billy D:
This is sad...the article was just plain stupid...'nuff said.
7.22.2008 5:05pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
What I found most interesting was the life expectancy figures, which are poorer than those for the late Roman Republic. In ancient Rome, they had as one would expect a higher rate of death in infancy and high death rates among young adults: young adult women frequently died in childbirth, young adult men died in warfare. If you made it past young adulthood, your life expectancy was pretty good. As I recall, a 40 year old could expect to live to 70.
7.22.2008 5:05pm
Snarky:
The Federalist Society is really lucky to have this guy as a founder. He is so very smart. I used to be a living constitutionalist, but now I am an originalist.
7.22.2008 5:06pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Meta-satire, right? I.e., satire of what might pass in some crowds as "satire" of nonformalist construction, right? Amusing, if so. But (like much satire these days) sadly outclassed by reality.
7.22.2008 5:16pm
Arkady:
D.A. wins the thread.
7.22.2008 5:17pm
keypusher (mail):
Bill Poser

What I found most interesting was the life expectancy figures, which are poorer than those for the late Roman Republic. In ancient Rome, they had as one would expect a higher rate of death in infancy and high death rates among young adults: young adult women frequently died in childbirth, young adult men died in warfare. If you made it past young adulthood, your life expectancy was pretty good. As I recall, a 40 year old could expect to live to 70.

I would bet that in any society, if you make it to 40, you have a decent chance of making it to 70. Calabresi's article said that, in early America, if you made it to 18, your average life expectancy was 47, which doesn't say a lot about a 40-year-old's life expectancy.

I've read that life expectancy in Rome was in the early 20s compared to 37 in the US in 1790, but I don't know if that's right. Anyway, how does anyone know what life expectancy was in Rome?
7.22.2008 5:18pm
Jack M. (mail):
people, it was a snarky joke. And yes, he made some good points---you lefties mad at him for poking holes in your living constitution crap are just stamping your feet. No, its not serious scholarship, it's meant as dismissive sarcasm---such as if some lefty judge made a joke about originalism.

I know you lefties hate logic in the snark against you that you can't counter, but whining like little babies isn't going to help.
7.22.2008 5:21pm
Justin (mail):
Wow, Calabresi really beat up that straw man good.

Jack M., I think people here know it was a joke. Us lefties just think it was not a very fair characterization of what any reasonable person actually believes in.
7.22.2008 5:31pm
with respect to yogi berra:
I'm looking forward to the follow-up article, "McCain is too old to be President," mostly because people alive at his age in the 18th century ... would be dead.
7.22.2008 5:53pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Calabresi writes: "Are there any reasons to think that Obama is naive, inexperienced, arrogant or lacks knowledge of foreign policy? The answer is clearly yes. He has called for talks with the radical Islamic president of Iran. He has criticized the war in Iraq but visited the country for the first time Monday to see how well the surge there is working."

Interestingly, the current President's State Department has also quietly called for talks with Iran, and has of course been engaged in multination talks with North Korea (after putting forth for years the same sort of bluster as Calabresi), and the current U.S. President and the Iraqi President now both endorse some version of Senator Obama's plan to remove combat troops from Iraq. Of course, talks with Iran might not be necessary had we not empowered it by invading Iraq in reckless disregard of the foreseeable consequences, thereby creating a vector of radical Shiite influence (which we are now countering by paying off Sunni radicals [that's right, the same sort of people who attacked us on 9/11] not to fight and to undermine Iran from within). But Senator McCain's prediction (no doubt based in his vaunted experience) that we would be greeted as liberators following that invasion and his repeated public confusion regarding important geographic facts in the region apparently do not make him "arrogant or lack[ing in] knowledge of foreign policy" or betray any sort of naivete.

As for the conspiratorial nonsense being purveyed by some in the comments, does anyone have good reason to doubt the authenticity of this copy of the Obama birth certificate?

http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/birthcert

If not, please focus on the issues in the serious and studious way that Mr. Calabresi.
7.22.2008 5:59pm
Thales (mail) (www):
has.
7.22.2008 6:00pm
Anonymous #346:
"http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/birthcert"

Um, but isn't that the one from dKos where the guy who posted it showed in-progress versions? And has anyone verified the border pattern as one actually used? All I've seen is the candidate's site and the techdude analysis, so I don't know. You'd think there would be better evidence to lay it to rest than this, is all I'm saying.
7.22.2008 6:03pm
Apodaca:
naive, inexperienced, arrogant or lacks knowledge of foreign policy
Damn right. I bet between now and the election Obama doesn't dare show his face in Czechoslovakia or at the Iraq-Pakistan border.
7.22.2008 6:05pm
byomtov (mail):
Aside from the other idiocies in the article, he is probably wrong in his statement that in 1789, even the average life expectancy of every man who reached age 18 was only about 47.

The earliest date for which I was able to find figures quickly was 1850. According to this table a 20 year old white male had a life expectancy, in 1850 of another 40 years. He could expect to live to be 60. Hard to believe it increased that much in sixty-one years. The current expectancy is age 77, an increase of 17 years after a century and a half of major improvements in public health, discovery of antibiotics, generally huge advances in medicine, etc.
7.22.2008 6:09pm
CJColucci:
I agree with Arkady that DA wins the thread -- mainly because I was going to say the same thing until I saw that DA beat me to it.
7.22.2008 6:10pm
byomtov (mail):
This is rich:

Roosevelt engaged in gunboat diplomacy with Latin American countries such as Panama that tarred America's reputation in that part of the world for the next 100 years. We are still living with the legacy of T.R.'s youthful foreign policy excesses.

A conservative worried about tarring America's reputation. Sure.
7.22.2008 6:18pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Apodaca:

Yeah, can you imagine if Obama had said "Iraq-Pakistan" border during his trip this week. His campaign would be done within 24 hours.

----

Everyone else says this piece was supposed to be a joke. I dunno, I thought jokes were supposed to be funny. I even think conservatives were cringing at this one once they saw how long it went on for.

Calabresi Senior has more class than this. (And a better sense of humor! Jokes sound best with a funny accent.)
7.22.2008 6:19pm
Syd Henderson (mail):

Bill Poser (mail) (www):
What I found most interesting was the life expectancy figures, which are poorer than those for the late Roman Republic. In ancient Rome, they had as one would expect a higher rate of death in infancy and high death rates among young adults: young adult women frequently died in childbirth, young adult men died in warfare. If you made it past young adulthood, your life expectancy was pretty good. As I recall, a 40 year old could expect to live to 70.


Unless, of course, you got to be emperor, in which case your life expectancy would be about 44.
7.22.2008 6:21pm
LM (mail):
Mr. X,

Hmm, which is more dangerous? The guy who is a similar age as Teddy Roosevelt was then or the guy who wants to be is a similar age as Teddy Roosevelt would be now.
7.22.2008 6:37pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Angus:

"I've always received a printout similar to the one Obama posted on his website."


The printout you get has an embossed seal. The argument over the one posted is that it either lacks the seal or it's on the wrong side of the paper. The Hawaii office says it won't release anything without BHO's written permission and so far he won't give it. Supposedly there are other problems with the posted certificate as well.
7.22.2008 6:41pm
Ben P (mail):

The earliest date for which I was able to find figures quickly was 1850. According to this table a 20 year old white male had a life expectancy, in 1850 of another 40 years. He could expect to live to be 60. Hard to believe it increased that much in sixty-one years. The current expectancy is age 77, an increase of 17 years after a century and a half of major improvements in public health, discovery of antibiotics, generally huge advances in medicine, etc.



That goes in line with what someone else said earlier. Life expectancy figures are often misunderstood by casual readers. From a true public health standpoint they're accurate, but the average person doesn't consider that "I've got an X percent chance of dying in some sort of accident" when thinking about how long they'll likely live.

If 50% of your babies born die before Age 1 and the other 50% live to 60, the average life expectancy is technically 30.

I don'tknow specifically about Revolutionary War America, but I did study this some in Medieval Europe in Undergrad. What you see isn't much different from what someone said earlier. You see a lot of babies die before age 5 and you see a much larger percentage of women dying in child birth than today, and a larger percentage of men dying from violent or accidental causes than today.

But that doesn't mean there weren't any old people. If you eliminate injury and sickness you find that the average peasant lived to mid 50's and nobles lived 5-10 years longer than that.
7.22.2008 6:42pm
Hauk:
Who says that conservatives don't have a sense of humor?


Why don't you people just get it over with start wearing brown shirts and march in formation to his convention speech out at Triumph of the Will, I mean the DNC this summer?

Get it? Do you get it? 'Cause it's like they're Nazis!!! Hilarious. Get over yourselves, lefties! Steven Calabresi is a comic genius!!!!
7.22.2008 6:45pm
Hauk:
A. Zarkov:


The Hawaii office says it won't release anything without BHO's written permission and so far he won't give it.

So basically, Hawaii won't release his birth certificate without his permission. So Hawaii has his birth certificate. I was born in New Hampshire, and even though I've lived elsewhere and gone to school elsewhere, the only place that has a copy of my birth certificate is New Hampshire. This seems to suggest to me (feeble-minded though I am) that he was actually born in Hawaii.

So if he was born in Hawaii, what's the problem with not being able to see a supposedly "more accurate" copy of his birth certificate?

Gasp! Maybe he actually is younger than 35.
7.22.2008 6:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
people, it was a snarky joke. And yes, he made some good points---you lefties mad at him for poking holes in your living constitution crap are just stamping your feet. No, its not serious scholarship, it's meant as dismissive sarcasm---such as if some lefty judge made a joke about originalism.

Sorry, but it's not that. Let's say you have a theory that all dogs should be trained in a certain way. And someone tries to make fun of you by saying "you wouldn't train a cat that way", to which the response is, that's right, there's nothing funny about that, and we always acknowledged that this training method is only for dogs.

That's what Calabresi's missing. Advocates of a living Constitution have never claimed that narrow, unambiguous rules in the Constitution get broad and sweeping interpretations. So when he thinks he is so clever by saying "you see, you guys don't really think that narrow, unambiguous rules get broad and sweeping interpretations", we respond "yeah, where's the joke? We never believed that."

This is what conservatives incapable of grasping complexity TELL THEMSELVES that we believe. Just like they tell themselves that they just follow the language of the Constitution, when in fact they don't do that all the time either.
7.22.2008 6:58pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
As BYomTov points out, even the demographic premises of this brilliant work of art are bogus.

On the birth certificate, when will you guys learn that Rathergate was a setup? Now you go around looking for kerning everywhere. It's embarrassing to see "Israel Insider" publishing The Protocols of the Elders of Hawai‘i.
7.22.2008 7:01pm
Brett:
Advocates of a living Constitution have never claimed that narrow, unambiguous rules in the Constitution get broad and sweeping interpretations.

Liar.
7.22.2008 7:04pm
Brett:
This is what conservatives incapable of grasping complexity TELL THEMSELVES that we believe.

No, it's simply what liberals incapable of meaningful self-reflection and intellectual honesty refuse to admit.
7.22.2008 7:08pm
Kirk:
frankcross,

It's the "Krugman Phenomenon". What's not to get?
7.22.2008 7:12pm
Eli Rabett (www):
with respect to yogi berra wrote:

I'm looking forward to the follow-up article, "McCain is too old to be President," mostly because people alive at his age in the 18th century ... would be dead.

He's not??
7.22.2008 7:15pm
/Sarcasm ON:
A better question is whether the man is even a natural citizen. The birth certificate he supports appears to be a brazen forgery. What is he hiding?

C'mon -- everyone who ever went to Sunday School in a fundamentalist church KNOWS The Antichrist wasn't "born" a mere 46 years ago, and ain't gonna reveal his true pedigree until well after the Rapture. Oh, bye, Ye Obamaton Unbelievers, have a nice Tribulation!

/Sarcasm OFF
7.22.2008 7:21pm
Nate in Alice (mail):
There is no question he was born in Hawaii as Hawaii has a copy of his birth certification. The conspiracy theorists on the net believe that the original copy will show some damning fact--either his parents weren't married, his middle name was actually Muhammed, his father and mother were both Muslims, etc.

It's quite silly because none of those things have the slightest bearing on his fitness to be POTUS but would only serve to dredge up slime campaigns.

Sad to see Mr. Zarkov sully his own foreign-sounding name with this type of inane drivel.
7.22.2008 7:27pm
Bad (mail) (www):
"Mildly amusing point segues directly into McCain attack ad."

Which, er, isn't particularly surprising given that he works for McCain's "advisory committee" (i.e. his political campaign), no?

Anyway, this general take has it right: "This is what conservatives incapable of grasping complexity TELL THEMSELVES that we believe." If it's a joke, then it's one based on ignorance rather than wit.
7.22.2008 7:31pm
Hauk:
Thanks, Nate. That makes it even more hilarious.
7.22.2008 7:40pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Um, but isn't that the one from dKos where the guy who posted it showed in-progress versions? And has anyone verified the border pattern as one actually used?"

The onus is on the people who claim to have doubts about the certificate's authenticity; Have you verified that what is posted on Obama's website is not in common use? Has the claim that Hawaii won't release the "real" certificate been verified by Hawaii? What have you presented that would lead a reasonable person to believe in your forgery theory. So far the doubts posted here come from lunatic fringe websites and the poster Zarkov, who has repeatedly posted borderline racist remarks about Senator Obama at this site. This stuff is of a pace with the push-polling about McCain in South Carolina in 2000 and is beneath contempt.

At least Mr. Calabresi attempted to make it about the issues, while making a fairly silly caricature of nonoriginalist constitutional interpretation.
7.22.2008 7:42pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Conservative media outlets like... the Chicago Tribune?"

The Tribune is widely thought of as a newspaper with a conservative editorial stance.
7.22.2008 7:44pm
Anonymous #346:
"Have you verified that what is posted on Obama's website is not in common use?"

I haven't the means, but the techdude guy did. That's why I asked.

"What have you presented that would lead a reasonable person to believe in your forgery theory."

I have no forgery theory. The hyperbole and innuendo against favored candidates is digusting. Every question has to be attacked by standing on assumptions five stories tall in order to make sure I understand that you have neither any answers nor a sense of humor.

Fine, we get it. Il Duce is beyond reproach. Now shut up about it.
7.22.2008 8:02pm
Guest101:
"In 1994, the American people responded by putting Clinton on a tight leash with the first all-Republican Congress in 40 years."

All-Republican? I was not aware that there was not a single Democrat left in Congress after the '94 midterm elections.
7.22.2008 8:17pm
Steve2:
You know, I've seen a similar argument used with the 7th amendment's "twenty dollars" requirement: that it should be read as "the date-the-suit-is-filed inflation adjusted equivalent of twenty 1791 dollars".
7.22.2008 8:34pm
BRM:
Nice "buy a glass of white wine" jab thrown in there as well. I found the article more insulting to Obama than satirically funny, though.
7.22.2008 8:36pm
rjs (mail):


All-Republican? I was not aware that there was not a single Democrat left in Congress after the '94 midterm elections.


All houses of congress.
7.22.2008 8:57pm
aces:
It could be worse: Obama could have been born on February 29, 1960, in which case he'd be only 12 and clearly ineligible. For confirmation, see The Pirates of Penzance.
7.22.2008 8:57pm
KWC (mail):
It's interesting because only someone who believes in original intent (and I'm not sure who that would really include) would think there is something to this age argument. It's certainly not a liberal interpretation. Liberals read the Consitution to be broader, not narrower, than it reads; conservatives do the opposite.

Except, of course, in Heller.
7.22.2008 9:04pm
Kazinski:
Mr. X:

Hmm, which is more dangerous? The guy who is a similar age as Teddy Roosevelt or the guy who wants to be Teddy Roosevelt.

You mean the same Teddy Roosevelt that one of only two US Presidents* to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

*Woodrow Wilson was the other, Carter was a former president when he won.
7.22.2008 9:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Liar.

Brett, before going off and calling me a liar, why don't you cite some scholarship or caselaw from the living Constitution tradition which advocates interpreting a narrow, specific, clear rule as instead creating a broad, sweeping right? After all, you must actually have such scholarship or caselaw in mind before calling me a liar, right?

You couldn't simply have a preconceived notion of what liberals believe about the Constitution that you don't wish to give up, right?
7.22.2008 9:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Thales:

"So far the doubts posted here come from lunatic fringe websites and the poster Zarkov, who has repeatedly posted borderline racist remarks about Senator Obama at this site."


That's it-- play the race card when you run out of anything substantive. Are you placing any criticism against BHO off limits as "borderline racist." Would you like me to start insulting you? I can assure you I am very good at it.

From Israeli Insider:
A senior official in the State of Hawaii's Department of Health, Director of Communications Janice Okubo, confirms that the image published and circulated by the Obama campaign as his "birth certificate" lacks the necessary embossed seal and signature. Backing away from a quote attributed to her that the image on the campaign site was "valid," she told the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times in an article published yesterday: "I don't know that it's possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents."
Call Janice Okubo yourself and refute what appeared in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times.
7.22.2008 9:55pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
Jerome Cole

You have confirmed all my deepest suspicions. Others may mock, but the truth will out. The Group will meet Friday at the usual place. Email me for the sign and password.
7.22.2008 10:17pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Brett, before going off and calling me a liar, why don't you cite some scholarship or caselaw from the living Constitution tradition which advocates interpreting a narrow, specific, clear rule as instead creating a broad, sweeping right? After all, you must actually have such scholarship or caselaw in mind before calling me a liar, right?
Okay, Dilan: Marty Lederman argues that the Thirteenth Amendment -- very narrow, specific, and clear -- somehow authorizes Congress to pass hate crimes legislation encompassing crimes motivated by sexual orientation..
7.22.2008 10:19pm
Hauk:

Il Duce is beyond reproach.

I get it, it's like Obama is a fascist!!! Your subtlety won't escape me again!!! Hilarious............
7.22.2008 10:20pm
Nate in Alice (mail):
A. Jakov:


Backing away from a quote attributed to her that the image on the campaign site was "valid," she told the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times in an article published yesterday: "I don't know that it's possible for us to even say beyond a doubt what the image on the site represents."
So let me get this straight. She said it was valid. Then she said it didn't have the original seal and signature. Then she said that it's not even possible to say what the image represents (presumably because it's an image, and not a document available to her for physical inspection.)

You draw from this the conclusion that there is something sinister contained in his birth certificate, or perhaps he doesn't have one at all? There's a difference between an official seal and embossed document and a copy, true, but that his campaign uses one and not the other doesn't entail any sinister motive. More likely, the communications director was a bit in over her head and tried to just put the issue to rest by saying that the issue couldn't be evaluated over the web. Of course, if his birth certificate was fabricated, the government would know this, unless he's the anti-Christ. I find it much more likely that you're just a lunatic.
7.22.2008 11:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Okay, Dilan: Marty Lederman argues that the Thirteenth Amendment -- very narrow, specific, and clear -- somehow authorizes Congress to pass hate crimes legislation encompassing crimes motivated by sexual orientation.

So you think "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude is allowed" is as narrow as "the president shall be at least 35 years old"?

Look, I wouldn't particularly find a power to pass hate crimes legislation in the 13th Amendment, but it seems to me that there's a pretty strong argument that it is within section 5 of the 14th Amendment.

The broader point, though, is that the 13th Amendment isn't a narrow, specific restriction. "Involuntary servitude", in particular, leaves a lot of play in the joints.
7.23.2008 12:03am
Smokey:
Obama could end birth certificagtegate by simply authorizing disclosure.

Why won't he?

Another pig-in-a-poke deal.

A. Zarkov said:
BHO could end any doubt over his birth certificate by simply telling the office in Hawaii to release a certified copy of his original, or permit the press to inspect the original. Is the thinking that no one who dare pull off such a hoax? At what point in the election cycle does a candidate authenticate his natural birth and to whom?
Hey, isn't this a lawyers blog? And no one can figure out who has standing to force verification of eligibility to run for president?? C'mon, people, this is basic eligibility for office. Do voting citizens have the right to know the truth, or not?

"See that fine pig in that poke over yonder? I'll sell it to you, real cheap. But you got to make your mind up right now, I don't allow no inspections."
7.23.2008 12:09am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So you think "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude is allowed" is as narrow as "the president shall be at least 35 years old"?
So when you asked for an example of a living constitutionalist interpreting a narrow provision broadly, you meant that you wanted an example of a living constitutionalist interpreting the 35-years-old provision broadly?
7.23.2008 12:25am
Displaced Midwesterner:
I'm disappointed in the Chicago Tribune. I mean this Calabresi guy, he's like what, 15?
7.23.2008 1:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

his "birth certificate" lacks the necessary embossed seal and signature


Yes, that's what israelinsider says. Of course, they also say this:

Is Barack Obama a Muslim wolf in Christian wool?


This birth-certificate nonsense has been very thoroughly debunked by James Joyner, AJ Strata and Dean Esmay, who all have impeccable right-wing credentials.

But I hope you keep it up, because you're being funny. Unintentionally.

By the way, where are all the other presidential birth certificates? I think McCain supposedly showed his to a reporter. How come I don't get to see it? And I never saw Dubya's. Have you?

What about all the other presidents? Aren't you tired of being scammed?

smokey:

Do voting citizens have the right to know the truth, or not?


Good point. Where are all the papers on all those other folks?
7.23.2008 1:13am
Psalm91 (mail):
This is the best you "conservative" guys can do? Sen. Obama is an alien? The new X Files movie opens this weekend.
7.23.2008 2:01am
Jerry F:
I find the jokes comparing Obama to Mussolini to be somewhat distressing coming from (presumably) fellow conservatives. Mussolini had flaws, but he did not share all (or even most) of Obama's flaws. Say what you will about Il Deuce, but he loved his country. Moreover, while it is true that Mussolini had racist and anti-semitic political allies (something he shares in common with Obama), at least neither his wife nor his religious mentor was a racist. And while we are on the subject of religion, Mussolini may have been a sinner like the rest of us, but he did not publicly profess to be a Christian while simultaneously mocking everything that Christianity stands for.
7.23.2008 2:18am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"This birth-certificate nonsense has been very thoroughly debunked by James Joyner, AJ Strata and Dean Esmay, who all have impeccable right-wing credentials."

Follow the comment links to FindLaw and note that the law in effect in 1961 reads:
If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.
Thus if BHO was not born in the US then his mother being 18 at the time of his birth would not have been a resident 5 years after the age of 16.
7.23.2008 5:11am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Listening to you people prattle on and on about Obama's birth certificate is really amazing. It seems that you guys are suffering from a right-wing version of whatever disease has afflicted the 9/11 "Truthers."
7.23.2008 6:04am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Listening to you people prattle on and on about Obama's birth certificate is really amazing. It seems that you guys are suffering from a right-wing version of whatever disease has afflicted the 9/11 "Truthers."
7.23.2008 6:04am
Anonymous #346:
"I find the jokes comparing Obama to Mussolini to be somewhat distressing"

It isn't quite how he's presenting himself (though poofter puffery is the major part of his campaign), as much as it is how his worshippers treat him (including television and print media). I would hope that's clear by now.
7.23.2008 6:06am
Happyshooter:
Is there a middle of the road political site that explains this birth certificate issue?
7.23.2008 10:07am
Yoda:
My birth certificate from New York City (The NY City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issues its own Certs, or at least they did back in 1977) that looks like something I created at home (not even typed - the boxes are filled in by hand), with a raised seal that won't scan/photocopy and has "flattened" with age, and that has gotten questioned at the DMV in every state I've moved to and the US Passport Office (the latter forcing me to order an "updated" copy from NYC before they would issue a passport)... Yes, genuine paper Certs that are 30+ years old can easily look like forgeries.
7.23.2008 10:24am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

if BHO was not born in the US


You're ignoring the analysis done by AJ Strata concluding that the document is genuine. This analysis was enough to convince Charles Johnson of LGF as well as bunch of other right-wing bloggers.

Keep hope alive.

happy:

Is there a middle of the road political site that explains this birth certificate issue?


I think the debunking is even more impressive, given that it was done by, and has the support of, bloggers who are far to the right of the "middle of the road."
7.23.2008 11:04am
CJColucci:
Is a person eligible for the presidency who is not 35 years old when nominated? When the popular vote takes place? When the Electoral College votes? Or is it enough that the President be 35 on Inauguration Day, when he or she actually starts to serve?
7.23.2008 12:16pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Zarkov: "That's it-- play the race card when you run out of anything substantive. Are you placing any criticism against BHO off limits as "borderline racist." Would you like me to start insulting you? I can assure you I am very good at it."

Substantive criticism of Senator Obama (and Senator McCain) on the merits of his policies, his experience, his judgment and his character is just fine, a healthy part of the electoral process and fair game. Calabresi's article was in the fair game vein, though laughably poorly argued and full of dull and unpersuasive recycled talking points. Several Volokh conspirators have raised challenges or suspicions about Obama in the same fair game mode, some of them well-reasoned, others less so.

Unfair game: your repeated veiled assertions of racial inferiority contained in numerous comments on this website, conspiratorial insinuations without evidence that Obama is not who he says he is, holding Obama to a ridiculous and double standard regarding his "credentials" (including test scores and his "real" birth certificate), "affirmative action candidate" type remarks (though as others have pointed out, Obama ought to be the poster child for the *success* of affirmative action, if ever there were one) etc.
7.23.2008 1:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

You said

"This birth-certificate nonsense has been very thoroughly debunked by James Joyner, AJ Strata and Dean Esmay, who all have impeccable right-wing credentials."

I looked at the Esmay argument because if true it would have ended the whole question definitively as a matter of law. Only he was careless and it didn't. As for the certificate itself, I did not assert that it must be a forgery; I said BHO could end the matter by giving the Hawaii office permission to allow the press to inspect whatever documents they have. I don't think we can prove an something authentic by way of electronic images alone, although something can be shown to be a fake. Recall the memo about Bush. The Daily Kos was certain the memo was typed on an IBM and went on endless about their proof. Only they were dead wrong. So they are not reliable on this kind of thing.
7.23.2008 2:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Thales:

You have ignored things like my analysis of BHO's health plan. The other items have to do with his failure to be completely forthcoming about his background. You obviously can't deal with specifics so you result to insults. Have I ever insulted you or any other poster? Why don't you simply follow our hosts instructions about civil behavior here?
7.23.2008 2:16pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Zarkov:

"You have ignored things like my analysis of BHO's health plan. The other items have to do with his failure to be completely forthcoming about his background. You obviously can't deal with specifics so you result to insults. Have I ever insulted you or any other poster? Why don't you simply follow our hosts instructions about civil behavior here?"

Your use of the term "insult" implies that my characterization of some of your past comments about Obama as veiled racism is false, whereas I believe it is accurate and that reasonable people reading them would agree with my description. I leave it to the other readers to judge which of us is behaving civilly.
7.23.2008 2:43pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

BHO could end the matter by giving the Hawaii office permission to allow the press to inspect whatever documents they have


That's true. He also might believe it's to his advantage to let people like you look foolish.

I don't think we can prove an something authentic by way of electronic images alone


Tell it to AJ Strata and Charles Johnson, who disagree with you, and who seem to have some expertise on the subject, and who also have every reason in the world to discredit Obama.

his failure to be completely forthcoming about his background


What other presidential candidate has ever been expected to present his test scores and his birth certificate?

And speaking of "his failure to be completely forthcoming about his background," do you have a problem with the fact the Dubya hid his arrest record for 24 years? This involved some interesting shenanigans where Gonzales helped him avoid jury duty (and later lied about it), as a way of keeping the arrest record out of the public eye. According to the prosecutor, Bush "directly deceived" him.

But I'm sure you have already expressed your concern about Bush's "failure to be completely forthcoming about his background."
7.23.2008 2:48pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
David Nieporent,

Dilan Esper seems to interpret his own posts a lot like he says lefties don't interpret the constitution...
7.23.2008 2:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So when you asked for an example of a living constitutionalist interpreting a narrow provision broadly, you meant that you wanted an example of a living constitutionalist interpreting the 35-years-old provision broadly?

No, I want an example of an actual narrow provision. The 13th Amendment is not narrow.
7.23.2008 3:14pm
Brett:
Brett, before going off and calling me a liar, why don't you cite some scholarship or caselaw from the living Constitution tradition which advocates interpreting a narrow, specific, clear rule as instead creating a broad, sweeping right? After all, you must actually have such scholarship or caselaw in mind before calling me a liar, right?

You couldn't simply have a preconceived notion of what liberals believe about the Constitution that you don't wish to give up, right?


See David Nieporent's point, above, paying particular attention to how you hilariously suggest there's "play in the joints" of the term "involuntary servitude".

So, again: you are a liar.
7.23.2008 3:37pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Brett and Dilon:

There is a whole new thread on this very blog about mandatory national service in which a number of folks have noticed that there is some "play in the joints" of the term "involuntary servitude." I have no opinion as to whether the 13th Am. provide authority for national service or for hate crimes legislation, as neither are in my field. But in my field of labor/employment law, there are some interesting/close cases as to whether, say, specific enforcement of employment contracts is "involuntary servitude" barred by the 13th Am., so there is *some* play in the joints.

And Jerry F., I get it! Obama is WORSE than Mussoli! Ha! Ha, ha, ha!!!
7.23.2008 3:53pm
Brett:
For further examples, see virtually any of Jack Balkin's insane blatherings on the Fourth Amendment.
7.23.2008 3:58pm
anti-Brennan:
Mr. Esper has asked for examples of "some scholarship or caselaw from the living Constitution tradition which advocates interpreting a narrow, specific, clear rule as instead creating a broad, sweeping right?" I think the question raised by the Calabresi piece, as satire, is not whether something narrow was opened up into something broader, but whether some grand principle was used to override a specific, narrow provision. For example, if one were to use the equal protection clause to guarantee one-person, one-vote, and then force the U.S. Senate, as well as the the House, to be re-apportioned, that would be using a broad principle of equal protection to trump the numerically specific caluse giving two-Senators-per-State, and that would be silly. Surely no one would do such a thing, would they?

But consider the Brennan view that capital punishment per se violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments. He acknowledges in Furman that it is a vague principle, hard to pin down. He also admits that several more specific procedural provisions presuppose the acceptability of the death penalty, such as three requirements that the Fifth Amendment expressly ties to capital punishment: due process must precede taking life; no double jeopardy as to life; all capital crimes require grand juries. Despite these narrower procedural references to the death penalty, the general principles of "cruel and unusual" evolved over time to trump them.

I submit that this example is analogous to allowing general principles to trump the more-specific 35-year-old minimum, or the two-Senators-per-State, etc.
7.23.2008 6:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

BHO could end the matter by giving the Hawaii office permission to allow the press to inspect whatever documents they have


Breaking news. Someone found a birth announcement in the local paper, indicating that Obama was born in the US, after all.

But some people are still saying some very funny things:

I'm not sure that any info on the COLB is fake, but perhaps the document was set up to appear to be fake, so that we would spend hundreds of hours studying it
7.23.2008 11:14pm
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
Pinheads debating angels dancing on the heads of pins! Can you guys give me the name of your dealer? If you're not up to that please at least sell me some of your pot. It must be outrageously good.
7.24.2008 11:36am
Careless:
The birth certificate thing is puzzling to me: why would anyone think that Obama was not born in the US? Do they really think there's a significant chance that his mother got knocked up, turned 18, got married, and flew out of the country to give birth, only to quickly return? I just don't see why Obama would be that much more likely than another candidate to not have been born in the States
7.25.2008 2:29pm
LM (mail):
Careless,

If you want to plumb the minds that are taking this seriously, I recommend the Reason article jukeboxgrad links to a couple of comments up from here, and then, better still, the comment thread on the PUMA site linked in the Reason article. There's lots of really priceless stuff there.
7.25.2008 11:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I agree, this stuff is priceless. The thread lm is talking about is here.

I suggest reading the posts by Lori. She's the person who actually found the
birth-announcement newspaper clipping. And she did some careful investigation to make sure the clipping is genuine, and means what it appears to mean. So even though her original intent was to find dirt on Obama, she is now convinced. And she explains her findings in a very clear and rational way. But it's amazing to notice how many of her pals in the group simply don't believe her. Here are some excerpts:

I wondered if maybe the British or Kenyan consulate was at that address and the Mr. and Mrs. Obama who had the son referred to a son born in Kenya.

there could have been another Mr. and Mrs. Obama.

Ship travel between Hawaii and the mainland was very common in thosde days. If OB was born on shipboard, notice of the birth would be cabled to the state of embarcation (Hawaii) for recording

How do we know that the microfiche at the Hawaii State Library has not been altered?

a news clipping will never suffice as proof in a case of this importance

A local newspaper is an informal affair to run — it wouldn't be difficult to insert a birth notice if there is a paste up person you could convince to drop it in — you could even say the hospital missed it, and you are very very upset, whatever con it takes.

you are building a lot off of one scrap of a clipping. Have you validated the clipping by other means, or is it just a one-shot of a data point?
7.26.2008 11:48am
LM (mail):
Yup, that's the site I had in mind. Sorry I was too lazy to post the link.
7.26.2008 4:42pm