Birthers’ Next Line of Retreat: Obama was a Dual Citizen!
Release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate won’t satisfy the real conspiracists: they are already all over putative discrepancies in the document. But the document doesn’t extinguish another birther argument: Obama wasn’t a “natural born citizen” because he had dual citizenship at birth. Here’s an example from among the many birthers who have hit their comment buttons today:
Thank you, Mr President for releasing your long form birth certificate proving you are Native born to this country. Unfortunately it is also Primae facia evidence that your father was BHO Sr., not a US citizen as required by the Constitution. You were a dual citizen at the time of your birth. Your father was Kenyan/UK and you were born in Hawaii, so you had dual UK/US citizenship at birth. The Constitution requires the President be Natural born meaning a singular allegiance to the US at birth, distinguished from Native born, meaning born in the country. A Dual citizen by definition has a dual allegiance, which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution in the unique requirement for the Office of the President. Are we supposed to start ignoring the Constitution now? I didn’t get the memo, which parts do we ignore, or is it all of it?
This line is also getting picked up in various bills before state legislatures requiring presidential candidates to show that their parents were US citizens and/or that they have never maintained alternate nationality.
Obama probably did have dual citizenship (with the UK) at birth, and thereafter with Kenya until 1984. See this excellent explanation from factcheck.org.
But who cares? He never acted on his British or Kenyan citizenships — he probably didn’t even know that he had them. There’s no express prohibition on dual citizens holding the presidency. The framers could have anticipated the prospect, as European states refused to recognize naturalization by the United States (as late as Mussolini, who claimed Italian emigrants “to the seventh generation”). At least two other presidents — James Buchanan and Chester Arthur — had dual citizenship (with the UK) at birth. There’s no good argument for this one. Unfortunately, there’s no certificate that will disprove the birther case, either, and so this will just live on as a bizarre sideshow to the business of governing.