Barack Obama's birthday is tomorrow (or is it?) and in the spirit of gift giving, I've got something for the 28% of Republicans who don't believe Obama was born in America: An invitation to common ground.
Here's the first place we can agree: It would be nice if the president would ask Hawaii to release his original, long form birth certificate.
There are all kinds of perfectly good moral, legal and political reasons why he shouldn't, but, frankly, I'm still tuckered out from all the perfectly good moral, legal and political reasons Hillary Clinton wouldn't release the Rose Law Firm billing records.
I'm not going through that hell again.
Here's the second place we can agree: The rule of law is a good thing.
As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap - let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges - let it be written in primers, spelling books, and almanacs - let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.
That goes double for me. Can't get enough of that Constitution and Laws. When it comes to the Constitution and Laws I'm right there, lisping and prattling like Glenn Beck.
My children may not have primers, spelling books or almanacs -- because they go to school in California -- but they understand that we can't pick and chose which laws we obey and which we don't. If we acted like that, we'd be no better than wild animals in the jungle or Dick Cheney.
Here's the third place we can agree: If the Constitution says Barack Obama is ineligible to be president, he's ineligible to be president.
The Constitution is always right because the Framers were infallible, even about slavery and not letting women and Indians vote. The Constitution means what it says and says what it means, not unlike Horton Hatches an Egg, if it had been written 230 years ago by 55 guys.
The Constitution says:
"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.
And that's what it means.
I'm sorry, but I don't think we can get Obama on the "natural born" part. I don't know what it means and neither do you, and neither did the Founding Fathers. I think it had something to do with not letting Louis XVI be president or black people vote, but your guess is as good as mine. And guesses don't count.
The only person I'm absolutely certain is a natural born man is Bo Diddley.
Luckily, we don't have to interpret what they were getting at. That's why God created Originalism and sent us Antonin Scalia.
Originalism forbids interpretation. (Which could lead to thinking.) It says the document is what it is. We'll never know what the Framers meant, so the safest thing to do is exactly what they say.
So we can agree: Every word in the Constitution, no matter how oblique or arcane, is there for a reason and any president who violates it is gone, or our system collapses, strangers steal our mail, and our sons start playing with dolls.
Good. Now let's talk about the phrase "a Citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution."
Six simple words that mean exactly what they say. No spin. According to the clear letter of the law of the United States Constitution, Barack Obama can't be president, even if he was born in Hawaii, because Hawaii wasn't a state when the Constitution was adopted.
For their own impenetrable but absolutely unambiguous reasons, the Framers made a rule that says you can only be president if you were born in one of the original 13 colonies.
Sorry Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Ulysses Grant, William McKinley, James Garfield, William Howard Taft, Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover, Harding, Harrison and Hayes. A rule's a rule. Get out.
What are you smiling at, Abe? Kentucky didn't join the Union until 1792. Take your almanac, your primer and your lisping baby and scram.
Wait a second. I just had a thought. What if Article 2, Section One of the Constitution couldn't possibly mean what it literally says?
"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..."
Read it again. It's not just about where you were born. It says you can never be president unless you were alive in 1788.
That leaves out everyone but Robert Byrd.
I'm not saying we can't nullify the election. I'm just saying we can't do it without interpreting the Constitution. And we can't interpret the Constitution, because then we'd be no better than one of those horrible activist judges who legislates from the bench.
Next thing you know, we'd be feeling empathy.