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Birthers of a nation find new target in Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was born in Miami in 1971. His parents didn’t become U.S. citizens until 1975.

Associated Press

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was born in Miami in 1971. His parents didn’t become U.S. citizens until 1975.

Let's let out one big collective sigh. It will save time later. If you want, walk over to the nearest wall and bang your head a few times, too. And while we're at it, it's never too early for a cocktail, or two.

To be sure, we live in some pretty loony-tunes political times, where a candidate with otherwise fairly impeccable conservative credentials can suddenly find himself accused of all manner of blasphemy for diverging an iota astray from the conventional frumping right-wing orthodoxy.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has managed to accomplish this feat simply by being born.

While it is certainly true some people unkindly regard Miami as a suburb of the Planet Kalidnoid 5, it is a bona fide part of these United States of America and the birthplace of Florida's junior senator, who has been widely viewed as the Republican Party's answer to Moses, Abraham Lincoln and a channeled Ronald Reagan.

Rubio, after serving a grueling 20 minutes in the Senate, has been touted as vice presidential timber and perhaps even a presidential redwood down the road.

But that was until the lunatic fringe of the body politic started dropping dark hints that perhaps Rubio is unqualified to serve in the highest office in the land despite entering life as a bouncing bundle of ambition on May 28, 1971, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital — the one in Miami, not Beirut.

Yes, brothers and sisters, the birthers, many of whom still insist President Barack Obama is really the product of some coo-coo-ca-choo between Nelson Mandela and Jane Fonda in a Kremlin love nest, are back bigger and loopier than ever.

According to some of the clucking birther frothers, Rubio should be blacklisted from seeking higher office because while he was born on U.S. soil, his parents were not citizens of the nation at the time Marco came out of the womb shaking hands, handing out campaign buttons and hitting up the Florida Crystals sugar barons for donations.

So by their reckoning, because the Rubios were still Cuban citizens as of May 28, 1971, little Marco should not be considered a "natural born citizen" of the United States.

It seems pretty clear that since young Marco Rubio came into this world in Florida and since he was born quite naturally, he is a United States citizen with all of the attendant rights and privileges, including someday rising to the White House if that is what fate has in store for him.

The birthers have hung their pelts on the rather tenuous writings of a relatively obscure 18th century Swiss philosopher, Emer de Vattell, whose 1758 book, The Law of Nations, argued "natural born citizens" should mean only the children born of parents who were already citizens of that nation.

These (and let's whisper this very quietly — crazy) people are attempting to argue who should and who shouldn't qualify to become president based on the scribblings of a Swiss guy, writing in French, more than a decade before the start of the American Revolution. That would appear to be about as intellectually honest as a Republican presidential debate.

Just as passages in the Bible have changed over the years, the phrase "natural born citizen" didn't even appear in de Vattel's original manuscript. It popped up in a much later English translation. Oooooops.

By the birthers illogic then, it would follow we should dig up George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and all the other early founders who served as president and slap them silly while retroactively impeaching them because they were born to British subjects.

The "natural born citizen" gibberish has haunted other presidential candidates. Some, well, dunces, tried to suggest John McCain was ineligible to run for president because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Never mind that his parents were U.S. citizens and his father was serving in the U.S. Navy.

Barry Goldwater's legal status was questioned when he ran for president in 1964 because he was born in 1909, before Arizona was granted statehood.

Whether Rubio would make for a good president some day should be left up to the voters rather than a subcult of paranoid political gadflies with more idle time on their hands than the Unabomber.

For his part, Rubio was diplomatic: "The price of our freedom and our liberty is that people can go out and spend a lot of time on stuff like this."

Translation: Politics does make for some very weirdo-mondo bedfellows. Sigh.

Birthers of a nation find new target in Marco Rubio 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 6:11pm]
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