A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, July 11, 2008

How American are Americans?

I've met so many different types of Americans. All see themselves as Americans. Well, there's one I met on a boardwalk in Florida who was previously British in that she had assumed citizenship about ten years before I met her. She said "I am now an American, but I still think I'm a bit British. In fact, the local British Consul told me it wouldn't make any difference, because you can't stop being British". Actually, I think you can. You can stop being anything and start being something else. It happens all the time.

In a country that was formed by immigration, there is a grading. Some are more indigenous than others. A grand lady told me she was a Daughter of the Revolution. I was told these were women who could trace ancestry back to the founding fathers. The way she told it, there was a kind of purity about it. Others are only just becoming citizens today.

But not all Americans are as american as the most american Americans. Take Bob Hope. He was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, South London. He went to the USA at the age of four and ended up as a presidential entertainer and nation's favourite. But he wasn't home grown. He became an American. Same with Jerry Springer, Cary Grant, and Ray Milland.

Some become Americans later in life, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. There's a whole variety. But the most american of all Americans are those who are aged 35 or older and are natural born citizens. A sort of Grade A Fancy! Only these can become the President of the United States of America. Maturity and native status combined.

So why all this stuff? Well, some legal eagle has again popped up with the idea that John McCain is not in the Grade A Fancy league. He's in the level just below! This is because his mother gave birth in the Panama Canal Zone. This fact is not enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen” according to an analysis by Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona.

McCain is not eligible, so he says. This is even though the law was amended in 1937 to take account of such occurrences. McCain was born in 1936.

It is a load of hokum of course. Not legally, but practically so. “No court will get close to it, and everyone else is on board, so there’s a constitutional consensus, the merits of arguments such as this one aside,” said Peter J. Spiro, an authority on the law of citizenship at Temple University.

McCain is safe. Nobody will test the law. But it still means that some Americans are not as american as all Americans should be or think they are. It's a version of primus inter pares, except the primus is far more that one, and on different levels!