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Trumped

[ 238 ] January 28, 2016 |

cruz

Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Thursday that his candidate would be “happy” to debate Ted Cruz once the Texas senator gets a federal judge to rule him eligible to run for president.

“Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,” Lewandowski said. “But, as it stands right now, we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

Amazing as it may seem, it’s in fact true, and in a non-trivial sense, that “we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

Cruz’s problems here are multiple. First, U.S. federal courts can’t legally issue advisory opinions, so it’s not as if Cruz can just ask the court system to clear up the legal status of his campaign for POTUS. The question can only be resolved through litigation.

Second, it’s far from clear — a phrase that keeps coming up in this context — who is even qualified (“has standing” in law talk) to bring a suit that could, in theory, resolve the matter in time to help Cruz out of the jurisprudential pickle in which he now finds himself.

Third, the real significance of all this is that the Trump campaign merely needs to keep raising doubts in voters’ minds over the next few weeks regarding the — again, legitimate, incredibly enough — question of whether Cruz is legally eligible for the presidency, in order to accomplish Trump’s practical goal of undermining Cruz’s campaign at the margin.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this fiasco is how few people, including most especially Cruz’s own camp, seem to have anticipated that Cruz’s foreign birth could be a genuine legal-political problem.

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  1. Hercules Mulligan says:

    I must admit, I wasn’t sure if Trump going after a wingnut like Cruz would backfire.

    But hell…he leads every Iowa poll, and, according to today’s PPP poll, Cruz’s net favorability has dropped thirty points since the last poll. Trump is good at this.

    • Lev says:

      I’d bet you a year’s worth of all spice chips that Cruz didn’t even think to consult a Constitutional scholar when he was prepping his run to iron this major potential obstacle out. Dude is such an arrogant ass that he had to have figured he was enough of an expert himself. I mean, they simply had no strategy to deal with this, no messaging, nothing.

      I do think a part of the Cruz collapse has to do with him peaking too early in Iowa and giving his many, many enemies enough time to regroup and damage him. But Trump has played–and continues to play–this issue for all it’s worth.

      • random says:

        Trump is basically answering the age-old question “What would happen if we put an early-20’s Mike Tyson in a ring with an adult male silverback gorilla?”

      • Captain Splendid says:

        peaking too early

        I said this 2 weeks ago in another venue. Being that he’s so unliked, he can never peak too early (there’s an alternate universe where Trump doesn’t run and the National Review publishes a stop Cruz issue). The path to victory for him is a marathon, finishing second and third for the early primaries until he grinds everyone out.

        Any heat for him at this point is as bad as it is good IMO.

      • fledermaus says:

        Every Republican fancies themselves a “Constitutional expert”

        • heckblazer says:

          As a veteran appellate litigator who has argued orally in front of the Supreme Court nine times it’s not crazy for him to think himself as an expert on the Constitution. That does still leave the saying “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client…”

          (Having offered a defense of Ted Cruz I will now proceed to take a shower.)

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            I also think that “wow, most sensible people don’t think this is a problem” and wishful thinking could land him where he is.

            And really, what could he have done differently?

          • PhoenixRising says:

            He wasn’t wrong to think he’s an expert, but he seems blindsided by the issue which makes me think that he didn’t do what an expert would have done to determine whether there was an issue…which was go to the case law.

            As a parent of a child whose citizenship is just like Ted’s (she was born abroad and adopted in her home country, deriving her citizenship from mine because legally she was born to me and my wife in a city we had never visited at the time, a biological and geographical impossibility enshrined as fact on her birth certificate and passport) I’m astonished that he never. even. thought about it.

            The one job all of us who adopted children born abroad always knew, and always told our kids, is that this is a great country because there is only 1 thing our kids can’t ever be due to their origins…and that’s being elected President.

            • tomscud says:

              As someone with a similar citizenship story to Ted’s (although both parents were citizens) I also find it impossible to believe he never thought about it. I certainly did, and I have never had any political ambitions whatsoever.

              • postmodulator says:

                Thirded. I have basically John McCain’s citizenship story and I assumed I was ineligible for the presidency. (Well, that and some youthful experimentation issues.)

            • alex284 says:

              I don’t think he never thought of it. The question has come up in the past, and he always responded with something dismissive.

              My guess is that after McCain ran in 2008 and no one disputed him, Cruz thought that he’d slide in too. He probably would have if Trump weren’t running since the other GOP candidates don’t play the same way.

            • Dave B. says:

              As a parent of a child whose citizenship is just like Ted’s (she was born abroad and adopted in her home country, deriving her citizenship from mine because legally she was born to me and my wife in a city we had never visited at the time, a biological and geographical impossibility enshrined as fact on her birth certificate and passport) I’m astonished that he never. even. thought about it.

              Your child’s citizenship is NOT “just like Ted’s.” Ted’s citizenship was acquired at birth, not derived by adoption by a US citizen parent. Ted Cruz is, by US law (8 US Code Sec. 1401(g)), a national and citizen of the United States at birth. Your child was naturalized under 8 US Code Sec. 1431(b).

          • Marek says:

            He’s not an expert “on the Constitution” by virtue of his USSC appearances. There’s a lot to the Constitution, after all.

    • random says:

      I was pretty sure Trump would take Cruz out. But even without Trump in the race, I think that Cruz is innately a bubble candidate, the type voters flirt with for a while then move on. He has the charisma of toenail clippings and not an ounce of political cunning in his whole body.

    • timb says:

      If I can be pedantic (and I can!), Cruz’s favorablity was always going to drop, since he’s a colossal asshole and the second people started to pay attention, they would notice it.

      SSounding like a disingenuous televangelist is not a recipe for success

  2. CP says:

    IOKIYAR. Who would ever question the American credentials of a Republican? Everyone knows they’re the Real Americans, after all.

    • SNF says:

      Also very relevant: Cruz’ skin color.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Although, relevant to that: The American Prospect‘s most recent issue has an article making the point that a lot of the demographic predictions we’re getting from the Census about an emerging non-white majority in the country are dependent on some really questionable ideas about how race works as a social construct in our country, ideas that basically follow the “Single Drop” rule and state that Cruz and his daughters aren’t White for the purposes of the Census, even though it’s obvious that Cruz is about the Whitest guy on the planet.

        • Captain Oblivious says:

          Intersting article.

          Having lived in CA, NM and FL much of my adult life, I’ve known a lot of nth-generation whites with Spanish surnames, or names that were anglicized from Spanish forms, who do not identify as latino or hispanic except to say, yeah, there was a great-great-something in there from some Spanish-speaking area.

          I have no data, but I suspect intermarriage has always been much more prevalent than the Census formally recognizes. The idea that people only marry their own kind probably reflects how (some) people wish things were, rather than how they actually are.

        • Matt McIrvin says:

          Long-term, they’re right. Hispanics are just going to become officially white, like Italian or Irish or German people, and will be as susceptible to white identity politics as the other groups, because probably the only permanent impediment to becoming white in America is being black (or possibly full-blooded American Indian). And black Americans are never going to be anywhere close to a majority nationally, so there’s no way around attacking racism head-on if things are going to get better for them.

          Short-term, though, the Republicans just can’t seem to quit with anti-Hispanic xenophobia, and it’s genuinely hurting them.

          • Warren Terra says:

            I’d certainly agree that the ability to “pass” or “blend” matters, in escaping both discrimination and in losing the sensitivity to discrimination and the political awareness it engenders. And, of course, there are visibly identifiable ethnic/class/racial groups other than “Black” or “Native American” – a whole range of East and South Asian heritages, most obviously. Perhaps because they are still a small-ish part of the US population, people like me outside of those communities don’t automatically hear much about their stories (as we do for Blacks, Latinos, and occasionally Native peoples), and I don’t know how much discrimination and exclusion they face; it’s quite possible they’re still too small a part of our population to scare the racists and so don’t (yet?) face the same problems to the same degree that Blacks, Native Americans, and identifiable Latinos have and do. But the possibility is certainly there – across the waters, people who aren’t “Black” but are visibly “Other” to a dominant “White” population continue to face lingering and sometimes severe problems with animus and discrimination in the UK (people of South Asian descent) and especially in France (people of North African and Arab descent) and Russia (people from the Caucuses). Not to mention the Roma/Travelers, all over northern Europe.

            • Matt McIrvin says:

              The East and South Asians I talk to, at least, are very very conscious that they’re vulnerable, even if they get the “model minority” stereotype out in the open and are broadly accepted in places where African-Americans are dismayingly rare, like the software industry.

              • Warren Terra says:

                Yeah, I’ve heard stories too – but, again, usually not the sort of stories of systematic exclusion and devaluing Black folks have.

                • Matt McIrvin says:

                  Anyway, I’m betting that in the very, very long term, if whiteness still matters in the US (and it probably will), whiteness eventually expands to encompass Asians. Because not too many of them were around on the continent when these categories were laid down, the stakes of admitting them aren’t as high.

                  And Anglo-American racists already like cheerfully admitting that Asians are intellectually superior as a way of claiming that they’re not racist. They’re now in a similar category to Jews 100 years ago.

          • MacK says:

            I think you have to seperate the minority of “hispanics” who are of mostly ir completely Spanish descent from those who are of some or substantial native north or south american descent – the former do not regard themselves as “hispanic” – particularly the Cubans, and are not really regarded as hispanic by most hispanics.

            It is also a mistake to see hispanics as ethnically homogenenous, regardless of where they come from in Latin America or even from say where in Mexico, comparable to lumping English, Greeks, Italians, Irish and other European immigrant groups in together.

        • efgoldman says:

          even though it’s obvious that Cruz is about the Whitest guy on the planet.

          Damn. And I thought that I was the whitest guy on the planet.

      • libarbarian says:

        Funny. My wife overheard, in the breakroom at work, a guy tell another that he couldn’t vote for Rubio or Cruz because “they’re Mexicans”.

      • kayden says:

        Cruz is White though so no problem about his skin color. Ditto Rubio.

    • steverinoCT says:

      Everyone knows they’re the Real Americans, after all.

      I was in a discussion with a co-worker, and when asked, admitted to being partial to Hillary. He was aghast: “I thought you were a patriot!

      I was, for the record, wearing a command ball-cap from my first submarine at the time. Get some time on the pond, dink!

  3. Ransom Stoddard says:

    Perhaps this has been mentioned in earlier threads, but…is there a serious public interest in ensuring that candidates for the office of POTUS were born in the US? Cruz’s ascendancy to said office would indeed be a nightmare, but in ways almost indistinguishable from any definitively native born Republican candidate.

    • Paul Campos says:

      “Is there a serious public interest in ensuring that candidates for the office of POTUS were born in the US?”

      No. It’s a dumb provision, but the Constitution has a lot of those, and “it’s a dumb provision” doesn’t count as a legal argument, at least not if you don’t dress up quite a bit first.

      • Denverite says:

        On a related topic, is it “Hans v. Louisiana” or “Eleventh Amendment” that you have to say three times in the mirror for Lemieux to appear behind bearing a sharpened Canadian axe?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Better to use Alden or Seminole Tribe. Hans had become largely irrelevant until the Rehnquist Court pretended that it contained any constitutional law. (Alden is the best case to use to point and laugh at Scalia’s claim to be a textualist; Seminole Tribe is perhaps Souter’s finest hour on the Court, a useful comparison to Rehnquist, whose argument is almost as cursory as Hans itself.)

          • Denverite says:

            One of my most frustrating professional episodes in recent months was having to sit through a government attorney grilling a name plaintiff on why she had the audacity to sue state officials and not the state itself. I’m still like 50-50 on whether he was just being an asshole, or whether he isn’t aware of the 11th Amendment and Ex Parte Young. (It wasn’t my witness so I couldn’t object.)

            • rea says:

              Similarly, I’m dealing with a trustee in bankruptcy who thinks that federal bankruptcy court is an appropriate forum for the debtor’s claim against the Michigan Department of Transportation.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              11th Amendment

              I thought we were talking about the sovereign immunity cases based on Hans instead.

              (BTW,just remembered Blatchford was the Scalia opinion, not Alden. I regret the mis-cite.)

            • timb says:

              As we discussed earlier, bet on him not knowing. Government attorneys working at low levels are just trying to get their loans forgiven

      • tomscud says:

        Est ominus stultus? Made more sense in the late 18th/early 19th century when a countercoup to bring the country back into the Empire was still plausible.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      It’s a stupid provision, and if I were a judge I would rule him eligible for the reasons suggested by Sandy Levinson. It is worth noting, though, that based both on the legal theories Cruz claims to believe and on existing Supreme Court doctrine the arguments for ruling him ineligible are much stronger.

      • ThrottleJockey says:

        Its not a stupid provision, not then and not even now. People have divided loyalties. Too many neo-cons and evangelicals already conflate Israeli security with US security, why increase the odds that they do by having dual citizenship? Or having been born abroad? Hell we have too many Americans as it is who go off and fight for the IDF, or ISIS, or whatever.

        Do we really need Ah-nold Schwarzenegger to represent America so badly that no one else can represent his views? Is Jennifer Granholm indispensable as Commander in Chief?

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Its not a stupid provision, not then and not even now.

          Sure it is.

          People have divided loyalties.

          And you can vote against them on that basis.

          Too many neo-cons and evangelicals already conflate Israeli security with US security, why increase the odds that they do by having dual citizenship?

          Er…nothing in the eligibility clause forbids dual citizenship. I was born on US soil so am firmly a natural born citizen. I naturalised as a Brit. I am also regarded by Iran as a citizen because of my father. I expect your vote when I run for President!

          Or having been born abroad?

          This is silly. Someone born abroad but lived all their aware life in the US vs. someone born in the US but lived all their life abroad? The constraint favors the latter.

          Do we really need Ah-nold Schwarzenegger to represent America so badly that no one else can represent his views?

          So vote against him.

        • Warren Terra says:

          People have divided loyalties.

          It is beyond ignorant to think this has only to do with birthplace – or often that it has anything to do with birthplace. I know plenty of people who immigrated as small children who in every meaningful way identify only as American, or certainly are no less American in their self-perception than their younger siblings born here. And it’s hilarious that you should bring up devotion to a Likudnik/Neo-Con vision of Israel in the context of birthplace, because the most famous adherents are born here, and the most dangerous adherents are a bunch of southern-fried Christian Millenialists who want to strengthen a maximalist Jewish State because they think it will then die in a lake of fire and hasten the Boss’s travel plans.

          Also: Americans going off to fight in foreign wars include some goddam heroes – the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, for example, or the handful of American pilots who faked being Canadian to help defend Britain from Hitler; even the Flying Tigers, for all that their mission was a ludicrous boondoggle not worth the massive expense.

          • ThrottleJockey says:

            Yeah, I have personal friends who joined the IDF. I have evangelical friends who conflate Israeli security with our own. I would strip them all of citizenship.

            If there’s anything I believe strongly its that people who go off to fight in foreign countries do their own no favors. Hell, they don’t even have to fight. All these guys who go to Iran and N. Korea to evangelize just end up making things worse.

            • Warren Terra says:

              I have evangelical friends who conflate Israeli security with our own. I would strip them all of citizenship.

              Leaving aside the massive impracticality of this – do you plan to employ mind readers? – and even the injustice, as such, I believe stripping the citizenship of people who don’t have other citizenship (and maybe even people who do?) is a violation of international law; I think it’s also a violation of US law.

            • Murc says:

              If there’s anything I believe strongly its that people who go off to fight in foreign countries do their own no favors.

              So you think the Americans who joined the RAF or RCAF to fight the Nazi’s prior to Pearl Harbor were doing America “no favors.”

              Good to know.

              • ThrottleJockey says:

                I think if and when America needs Americans to fight on its behalf in foreign lands it has an Army, Navy, Air Force & Commander in Chief who will do so. I don’t see much difference between the Ammon Bundys and the folks who go overseas to fight for Israel, or Palestine, or Ireland, or the Levant. Maybe this country would be less likely to engage in foreign adventures if we had fewer adventurers.

                • ajay says:

                  Maybe this country would be less likely to engage in foreign adventures if we had fewer adventurers.

                  Yes, if not for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, America would never have got involved in the Spanish Civil War.

                  No, wait, it’s: if not for the Eagle Squadrons, America would never have got involved in the Battle of Britain.

                  Or is it: if not for US volunteers in the IDF, America would never have intervened in the Six Day War.

                  No, maybe it’s: if not for Americans joining the Provos, there wouldn’t be any US troops on the streets of Belfast.

                  Actually, no, it’s: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

                  Yes, that sounds right.

              • DAS says:

                The premature anti-fascists clearly were communists!

                Similarly, Democrats who were concerned about terrorism before 9/11 clearly didn’t realize that “after 9/11 everything is different”, which is why you can’t trust Democrats to do the right thing and invade countries that aren’t actually threatening us protect our national security.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Yeah, I have personal friends who joined the IDF. I have evangelical friends who conflate Israeli security with our own. I would strip them all of citizenship.

              One of these is not like the other.

              You just said you would strip people of citizenship because you disagree with their politics.

              That’s very bad.

              • ChrisTS says:

                Say what you like about inconsistency, at least it’s an ethos.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  To paraphrase Ali, I guess I’m a bad, bad man.

                  But I think what’s worse are the tens of thousands people killed and maimed by the Iraq War and the “Likudniks” and “Palinites” who want to send our troops over there again because ISIS. Frankly I question both their patriotism and their priorities. And if their priorities are that out of whack, then, no, they shouldn’t even get a vote.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  If you think taking the vote away will start, much less stop, with “people who want fewer wars,” then I question what nation you think you reside in.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  But I think what’s worse are the tens of thousands people killed and maimed by the Iraq War and the “Likudniks” and “Palinites” who want to send our troops over there again because ISIS.

                  They are pretty bad.

                  Frankly I question both their patriotism and their priorities.

                  That’s shared between us.

                  And if their priorities are that out of whack, then, no, they shouldn’t even get a vote.

                  This is bonkers. And, frankly, obviously going to be used against folks like us. It won’t end well. This is so basic that, whoa.

                • jim, some guy in iowa says:

                  at some point you guys are going to have to accept that he’s just screwing around with you

          • AMK says:

            It’s hard to create a uniform legal standard that separates US citizens who fight in the RAF or the French Foreign Legion from those who join the IDF or ISIS or the IRA. You could draw a line between states with diplomatic recognition and nonstate actors, or between treaty allies and other countries, or just carve out geographic regions (ie the whole Middle East) as no-go zones. But because the distinctions we really want to make between these groups are political, Congress would just have to legislate on each one specifically, which would (I assume?) raise conlaw questions.

            That said, I think that it would be straightforward for DOJ to prosecute many of the leading Likudniks for violations of FARA (foreign agents registration act–for lobbyists and organizations in the pay of foreign governments) but the political will has to be there. The state department could also designate some of the far-right Israeli settler movements as terrorist organizations…..which would allow Adelson and all the other sugar daddies to be prosecuted. But again, political will.

            • ajay says:

              Especially since a lot of US service members are currently in foreign armies because of officer exchange programmes. There was quite a storm in the UK last year when it was revealed that, although Parliament had voted down the bombing of Syria, RAF pilots were still bombing Syria because they were serving with USAF units on exchange.

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              Its because its hard to create a uniform legal standard that I think no American citizen should be able to fight for any force other than the American military–at least if they want to retain US citizenship. If you want to support Israel, or Palestine, or Ireland, or where ever go find a good humanitarian organization. I’m sure there are Syrians who could use the help of a good relief organization.

          • As long as we are naming Americans fighting on behalf of other countries, let’s remember the Lafayette Escadrille, the American pilots flying for France in WWI.

        • Matt McIrvin says:

          Too many paleo-cons and evangelicals already conflate white security with US security, why increase the odds by encouraging new forms of birtherism?

        • DAS says:

          People have divided loyalties.

          Well we better make sure that no-one with divided loyalties ever becomes president. We don’t want any Christ-killers Communists people with divided loyalties as president.

          By the way, let me fix something for you:

          Too many neo-cons and evangelicals already conflate what various members of the Israeli right claim is required for Israeli security with US security

          that what Bibi claims Israel should be allowed to do and the settlement and other policies promoted by the nationalist Israeli right have nothing to do with Israel’s actual security needs. Any (safely retired) higher up in the IDF, Mossad or Shin Bet will gladly tell you how absolutely horrid the nationalist Israeli right is for long term Israeli security, if you buy said (retired) higher up a couple of top-shelf drinks. Confusing what various Israeli politicians say is necessary for Israeli security with Israel’s actual security needs is about as bad as confusing what American neo-cons say we need to do “to keep us safe” with actual American security interests!

          As some of you know, my pet, “tin-foil-hat” theory is that some of the Likudniks/neo-cons are actually doing the bidding of Iranian hardliners with whom they built clandestine relationships back in the days of Iran/Contra.

          • so-in-so says:

            You know who we could really claim have “divided loyalties”? Politicians who sign Norquist’s tax pledge as well as an oath of office. Military and law enforcement who join Oath Keepers.

            Still don’t support disenfranchisement. I’d fire any military or law enforcement, but that’s me.

      • Lurking Canadian says:

        My personal gold-fringe hobby horse is that I think somebody should take a run at the “natural born” thing on the grounds that it is superseded by the 14th Amendment. “The clear intent of the Framers of he 14th Amendment is to guarantee that all American citizens, whether born or naturalized, have equal rights. This obviously is intended to include the right to stand for election to …”

        I have been informed that I am wrong about this, but I don’t think it’s any more of a reach than the (universally accepted) position that a coach leading the team in the Lord’s Prayer before kickoff is equivalent to a Congressional establishment of a state religion.

      • timb says:

        Yeah, he’s the one who believes every freaking word is given to us by God (and by that, I mean Antonin Scalia) and can never be subject to any later interpretation than 1787.

        Hoisted on your own petard, eh, Senator?

  4. Captain Oblivious says:

    Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this fiasco is how few people, including most especially Cruz’s own camp, seem to have anticipated that Cruz’s foreign birth could be a genuine legal-political problem.

    I’m not sure that Cruz ever thought he was actually running for Prez until he saw his poll numbers. Or maybe he actually was serious, but the people around him didn’t think he had a chance and were just running the standard campaign-consultancy grift. Either way, going back a few months, almost nobody on either side of the aisle seriously believed that the GOP nom would turn into a 2-horse race between these two nutbags. It was aupposed to be Rubio or Jeb! or even the Big Chicken or the Goggle-Eyed Homonculus. Not Trump and Cruz.

    Then Trump, who has proven to be far more clever and ballsy than pretty much the entire GOP, stuck this particular knife in and keeps twisting. I can easily imagine that, prior to this, everyone involved figured only a few nutjob birther types like Orly would make an issue. The “party” wouldn’t make an issue out of it, surely. But Trump keeps giving the “party” the finger.

    Toss in bog-standard Republican incompetence at just about everything, and no, I’m not surprised.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I’m not sure that Cruz ever thought he was actually running for Prez until he saw his poll numbers.

      This is a quibble, but I’m pretty sure he was always in it to win it. Everything about his tenure in the Senate was calculated towards higher office.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Everything about his tenure in the Senate was calculated towards higher office.

        It sure wasn’t calculated towards a successful career in the Senate, by any conventional standard!

    • Lev says:

      Honestly, there’s a much stronger case to be made that Rubio is running a grift campaign. First, he declines to run for re-election to the Senate. Then he runs a campaign that puts in only slightly more effort than Jim Gilmore’s, with the hilarious argument that TV shots on FOX News will go further in the early states than in person visits. Instead of doing that stuff, he spends all of his time networking with rich Republicans, though ironically his fundraising numbers are terrible. Sounds less like someone who wants to be POTUS and more like someone getting out of public office and setting himself up for big-league wingnut welfare. That he started putting in a minimal effort only after getting embarrassed by media coverage of how little work he’s doing is another point in this theory’s favor–one has got to keep the front at least somewhat viable to keep the grift going.

      I’m about 75% convinced this true, as I don’t think Rubio is a stupid man, and for him to seriously be attempting the presidency in the way he has would require him to be exceptionally stupid. If so, it’s kind of unusual for a viable candidate to run a business plan campaign.

      • cleter says:

        I’m not sure it’s so much a grift campaign, as a trial run for next time. He could well have thought he needed to get his ticket punched so he could be Next In Line when 2020 comes around. He might be surprised that he’s actually going anywhere.

        He probably wouldn’t win re-election to the Senate, anyway. He’s been a pretty lousy senator, and he got less than 50% of the vote in the GOP wave election in 2010. He’s certainly do worse in a high-turnout presidential year in a state went to Obama twice.

        • Lev says:

          I disagree on both points. The second first: Rubio is one of the most popular politicians in Florida, significantly more popular than Sen. Nelson. He’d have beaten Alan Grayson easily, against Patrick Murphy (in a presidential election year, in a state moving demographically to Democrats) he’d definitely have had a tough race but by no means an assured defeat. Unless you see Clinton or Sanders winning FLA by seven points or something.

          With respect to the first point: this is possible, but Rubio has been touted as a top-tier candidate for the office virtually from the start of the race, and a frontrunner for a substantial part of that in spite of his never leading the polls. It certainly seems like it was his for the taking all along, like with just a bit of a reach he could have it. But he didn’t take it. I can understand if he were caught off guard by how well things worked. But if it was there to be taken now, why not take it if that were, indeed, the ultimate objective?

          I could buy that he coasted because Trump and Cruz would be found unacceptable to some degree, but it doesn’t completely satisfy.

      • Captain Splendid says:

        I wouldn’t say he’s running a grift campaign so much as thinks he has a decent shot, both in the primary and the general, but has already hedged his bets on a cushy life in the private sector, because fuck working for a living.

      • efgoldman says:

        Honestly, there’s a much stronger case to be made that Rubio is running a grift campaign.

        Occam says he’s just incompetent.

        • so-in-so says:

          This. After Iraq, why do we expect the GOP to have thought things through?

          All their planning is we do this thing, then a miracle happens, then triumph and ponies for all good Americans!

  5. Warren Terra says:

    Second, it’s far from clear — a phrase that keeps coming up in this context — who is even qualified (“has standing” in law talk) to bring a suit that could, in theory, resolve the matter in time to help Cruz out of the jurisprudential pickle in which he now finds himself.

    I’m not a lawyer, but (although I recognize the value of “standing” arguments to rule out nuisance lawsuits) when “standing” arguments have an impact on high-profile, nationally newsworthy cases it always seems to be to the detriment of everyone and an impediment to justice.

    In any case: there have been a huge number of cases seeking to get people (or initiatives) tossed from the ballots over the years, that weren’t dismissed for “standing” issues. So there’s clearly a way to litigate such questions without “standing” getting in the way. I’ll concede it’s likely most or all of those cases were in state rather than federal court, but – again, speaking as a non-lawyer – can’t you start the process there, and see where it goes? Of course, that would make it even a longer path to a final verdict …

    • Paul Campos says:

      It’s a practical timing issue. There’s a (small) number of people who would eventually have standing to bring a suit, but AFAICT none of them are yet in a legal position to do so, and even if they were, nothing could be resolved for several months at the earliest, which is way too late for Cruz, practically speaking.

      • Denverite says:

        Do keep in mind that states have courts too, and most of them have pretty broad state taxpayer/public interest standing doctrines. It is ENTIRELY possible if Cruz was the nominee that a state taxpayer in, say, Texas, could sue in state court to keep him off the ballot.

        • mijamison says:

          This. Wouldn’t that be the easiest way to get the ball rolling if one was inclined? State ballot access laws are mostly targeted at preventing third party candidates but in any state with a primary (I imagine caucuses wouldn’t count) might someone challenge Cruz’s position?
          If he lost, how would the appeals process work as far as getting the case into the Federal Courts?
          Would the issue somehow become more about the state’s ballot access laws than Cruz’s eligibility therefore leaving the actual question unanswered?

          • Manny Kant says:

            Federal elections are weird, because they’re done on a state-by-state basis and thus subject to both state and federal law. I’m not sure how this would work. There must have been congressional elections where someone has been kicked off the ballot for being ineligible?

    • gratuitous says:

      Not a lawyer, but maybe someone who is can tell us if Sen. Cruz could file an action for a declaratory judgment on his own behalf? That is, petition the court for a ruling that he is eligible to be President as a natural born citizen?

      • Hogan says:

        As Paul said, federal courts can’t issue advisory opinions; they have to rule on actual disputes. “I think I might have a problem; what do you think?” is not, as they say, a cause of action.

  6. so-in-so says:

    Could a GOP primary official kick him off the ballot, specifically to provide standing for a lawsuit? At this point, that would seem the most direct way to resolve the issue. Assuming anyone in the GOP likes Ted enough to want to help him…

    • Mark Field says:

      That would give Cruz standing, but the suit might not be ripe. It’s a primary; the “natural born” clause doesn’t prevent him from running in a primary.

      That’s a bit cute for a court to rule that way, but it would let the courts duck the issue until he actually gets the nomination. And by then it’s pretty late in the game.

      • Denverite says:

        See above. Sue in state court and it’s not a problem (in a lot of states).

        • Mark Field says:

          Then someone ought to pre-empt Cruz and bring the suit in some state with such rules. Ideally, it would also be one where Cruz can’t afford to be left off the ballot.

          • Denverite says:

            I’m like 75% certain a plaintiff in Travis County state court claiming that the state is wasting taxpayer dollars holding a primary in which the likely favorite is ineligible to run for president would get past the justiciability hurdles.

            I’m like 99% sure that the SoS in states with advisory opinion mechanisms (Colorado and Nevada come to mind) could ask the state supreme court to opine on Cruz’s eligibility.

            • mijamison says:

              Could a State Board of Elections make a determination about the legitimacy of a candidate on the ballot?

              • Denverite says:

                Probably. Depends on what the BOE is allowed to look at, which varies by state. Some limit it to statutory requirements (deadlines, signatures, etc.). But I bet at least some would allow for constitutional eligibility to be considered. And then there’s probably federal court standing (for Cruz directly).

                • mijamison says:

                  But could the Federal Court dodge the birth issue by simply ruling that the State requirement was in error?
                  The courts may not want to rule on this but at some point if the issue had enough wheels wouldn’t they want it as early in the process as possible?
                  To rule a major party candidate ineligible after he was on the November ballot or worse after the election – especially since a challenge would only arise if he won – would be a nightmare scenario in terms of unsettling the public.

                • Breadbaker says:

                  I don’t think it should be all that hard to make it justiciable even in federal court. If Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted his name on the primary ballot for President and a Secretary of State agreed, I’d think it pretty clear another candidate (on the grounds he was sucking votes from him or her) could sue on the grounds the he’s not even close to a natural born citizen. The same with someone who would not be 35 on January 20, 2017.

      • Manny Kant says:

        So what you’re saying is that Cruz would win such a suit, but only on the grounds that it’s not appropriate to exclude him from a primary ballot, even if he’s actually ineligible for the presidency? I don’t see how that works. The same argument could say that the “natural born” clause doesn’t prevent him from running in the general election, either, or even from being voted for by members of the electoral college, and only prevents him from serving as president. Which seems sophistical.

    • cleter says:

      Could a state party say that to be on the ballot as the Republican candidate in November that you have to produce an American birth certificate? Could the GOP convention rules committee require something like that to get a name in nomination at the convention?

    • AMK says:

      McCain’s circumstances were very different (born to two US citizens on a US military base in a US territory) but it’s worth nothing that the Senate still went out of its way to pass a unanimous resolution in 2008 affirming his natural-born citizenship:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20151001174745/http://www.politicsdaily.com/2008/05/01/clinton-obama-sponsor-mccain-citizenship-bill/

      Impossible to imagine anybody in the Senate (least of all his fellow GOPers) doing the same for Cruz.

      • Lev says:

        And the irony is that McCain isn’t exactly beloved in the Senate either. A lot of senators view him as a grandstanding ass who regularly swoops in to take credit after the hard work is done. He did it on immigration reform (“Fuck you, John Cornyn, I know more about this than anyone else in the room!”) and attempted to on the financial crisis. But while he’s not loved, he is respected. Cruz is neither.

        • AMK says:

          Yeah of all the lines Trump has crossed, calling McCain a loser for being captured is by far the most outrageous and inexplicable for the Washington GOP. Behind closed doors, most of these guys agree that the people who cut their lawns are lazy rapists-in-waiting, and peaceful Muslims are a liberal media invention. But McCain is sacrosanct, even if they increasingly ignore him when it matters.

          • random says:

            As has been pointed out, attacking McCain’s war record is not only not sacrosanct, but is pretty much a time-honored tradition in GOP primaries.

            Nothing Trump said about McCain during this primary is remotely as bad as the things that the Bush campaign said about McCain during the 2000 primary en route to winning the nomination. I have no idea who invented this revisionist myth that calling McCain a traitor and a coward was anything new for Republican Presidential candidates, but it is a myth and nobody should have been at all surprised that he didn’t lose any support for saying it.

            • Manny Kant says:

              Yeah, this. Didn’t Bush more or less accuse him of being a Manchurian candidate?

            • NonyNony says:

              Nothing Trump said about McCain during this primary is remotely as bad as the things that the Bush campaign said about McCain during the 2000 primary en route to winning the nomination.

              In substance, no.

              In style? yes. I don’t think that George W. Bush would have said:

              “He’s not a war hero, He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

              Sure he would have had surrogates hint darkly about the idea that McCain was a Manchurian Candidate brainwashed by the Communists who shouldn’t be allowed near the presidency. But he wouldn’t say that kind of thing himself.

              And he certainly wouldn’t have just got up there and shouted “McCain’s a loser! A LOSER!” at the top of his lungs like Trump.

              That’s what the outrage was mostly about – not that he was attacking St. John of the Tire Swing, but that he did it in such a vulgar manner.

      • Ahuitzotl says:

        I wonder how many votes a resolution declaring him ineligible would attract.

  7. Gwen says:

    Right before Schwartz filed suit, I put in some serious thought (by which I mean, try to remember stuff from law school while taking a shower) about what a suit challenging Cruz’s eligibility would like.

    It seems to me that the appropriate vehicle should have been a suit seeking an injunction against the Secretary of State (of Texas), and/or one of the County Clerks/Election Administrators, from putting Ted Cruz on the ballot.

    My guess is that any sensible judge would either find a lack of standing (except possibly if the suit was brought by another candidate) or engage in hand-waving and say the balance of equities weigh against changing the ballot this close to the primary (it’s March 1st in Texas).

    At any rate, I agree that trying to get a declaratory judgment here might not be the right or proper vehicle.

    • Gwen says:

      FWIW, I am fairly sure that a suit filed in Texas against our SOS has to filed in Travis County, which is one of the few counties with a bunch of liberal Democrat judges.

      Oh, the fun we could have…

    • Denverite says:

      My guess is that any sensible judge would either find a lack of standing

      Google “chicken salad case.” Trust me. It’s funny (and on point on your point).

      • Breadbaker says:

        This is not virgin ground (except perhaps for the U.S. Constitution angle). I remember a case here in Washington where a judicial candidate was kicked off the ballot because she did not live in the district for which she sought to run for office (she lived a few hundred feet outside it). I imagine most states have such cases for various qualifications for office. I don’t see this as sufficiently different that there wouldn’t be precedent on standing.

  8. rjayp says:

    yeah, but…cruz is really really smart. everybody says so.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      Cruz’s problem is that he isn’t quite as smart as he thinks he is and that not everybody else is as dumb as he thinks we are

      • N__B says:

        Cruz has spent his life looking for rooms were he would be the smartest guy present. He thinks that means he’s smart.

        • Warren Terra says:

          You give him too much credit for planning and self-knowledge. He didn’t tour the Ivy Leagues in the debating society seeking rooms in which, on any reasonable basis, he could expect to be the sharpest chap in the chamber. He just had an unshakable moral certainty that he was the brainiest of the bunch, of any bunch.

          • efgoldman says:

            He just had an unshakable moral certainty that he was the brainiest of the bunch, of any bunch.

            And making sure anyone he comes in contact with knows it is part of his charm.

        • twbb says:

          Since most of those rooms are him and tea parties I think he’s succeeded.

  9. Gwen says:

    http://abovethelaw.com/2016/01/birthers-beware-why-court-challenges-to-cruzs-citizenship-cant-win/

    Here’s an article on why advisory opinions are illegal, declaratory judgments might be the wrong vehicle, and standing is a general problem (except possibly for fellow candidates, or perhaps party organizations).

    If Trump is at all serious, he should probably sue for injunctive relief in Travis County, ASAP, against the Texas Secretary of State and all County Clerks / Election Supervisors.

    (I haven’t read the Texas Election Code, there may be some special rules in there that govern this scenario).

    • so-in-so says:

      I suspect Trump prefers the current FUD to a clear court ruling. I think anyone who figures a way to get this in court might be doing Cruz a favor, depending in the outcome, naturally.

    • mijamison says:

      What about the FEC? Some regulatory agencies are permitted to offer advisory opinions.
      Granted, it would probably be worthless and a political sideshow but we already have that.

    • AdamPShort says:

      I don’t think there is anything in the Texas code (or most state election codes) that says that a candidate must be eligible to serve as president in order to be listed on a presidential primary ballot or to win delegates.

      The party can nominate a ham sandwich if it wants to.

      I think the remedy would come after Cruz wins the nomination – Trump (or whoever) could sue to block Cruz from being listed on the general election ballot of a state due to being ineligible to serve as president.

      What’s potentially humorous about that in Trump’s case is, at least in Texas, the state party chair would then get to name a replacement candidate, which I assume would not be Trump.

    • DAS says:

      From the way that article is written, if it’s the Senate’s prerogative to decide eligibility for the presidency, shouldn’t Trump and Cruz be pushing the Senate to make the determination sooner rather than later?

      That being said, what happens if Cruz wins the election/electoral college vote and then the Senate decides Cruz is ineligible. Does his VP choice get the Presidency or will it go to the runner up (the Dem candidate)? In such a case, wouldn’t any Republican voter be “injured” because their vote didn’t count, which violates the right to vote? So wouldn’t any Republican voter have standing to seek a declaratory judgement now in order to ensure that his/her rights won’t be violated should Cruz win and be disqualified? After all, isn’t it better to prevent an “injury” than to wait until it happens and then invoke the courts to deal with it?

      • NonyNony says:

        From the way that article is written, if it’s the Senate’s prerogative to decide eligibility for the presidency, shouldn’t Trump and Cruz be pushing the Senate to make the determination sooner rather than later?

        Cruz certainly should. But Mitch McConnell already told him to go pound sand.

        Trump, OTOH, doesn’t want this cleared up. He wants people to talk about Cruz’s ineligibility because it hurts Cruz.

  10. skeptic says:

    Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this fiasco is how few people, including most especially Cruz’s own camp, seem to have anticipated that Cruz’s foreign birth could be a genuine legal-political problem.

    It’s especially surprising because we just went through this in 2008, when law professors scratched their chins wondering if McCain was eligible having been born in the Panama Canal Zone during a weird period of time. Of course, nobody seriously wanted to press that argument against a decorated prisoner of war. Lots of people want to press it against a giant Texan d-bag.

    • CrunchyFrog says:

      This does say something about Cruz’ experience, both what he has and what he lacks. He’s really good at memorizing a shitload of stuff and being an asshole to everyone around him. Trust me – you can go very far in business with just those two skillsets, I’ve seen it. You can be wrong about everything but your ability to recall all kinds of facts – whether they stand up to analysis or not – combined a taste for seeking conflict and degrading anyone who challenges you – will get you into positions of power AND allow you to blame others when things go wrong.

      But he’s never actually managed complicated projects. Trump hasn’t either, but he knows from his many failures to hire people who are actually good at identifying risks and avoiding problems.

      For all the other disasters that would occur with a Cruz presidency, add this to the list.

      • johnnypez says:

        He’s really good at memorizing a shitload of stuff and being an asshole to everyone around him.

        It’s a shame he went into politics. He sounds like a born software developer.

  11. how few people, including most especially Cruz’s own camp, seem to have anticipated that Cruz’s foreign birth could be a genuine legal-political problem.

    Obviously no self-respecting candidate from a self-respecting party would stoop so low as to question the legitimacy of a rival, or would encourage in any way the loonies on the street who question it.

  12. cleter says:

    State political parties pick the electors, sometimes well in advance. Could an elector sue?

  13. LeeEsq says:

    I still think this is is dumb and immoral way to disqualify somebody for the Presidency even though Cruz would be a horrible President. He was a citizen since he popped out and that is good enough for natural born for me.

    • Captain Oblivious says:

      It’s undemocratic.

      But then, much of our political system is.

      Eamon de Valera was born in NYC. He became President of Ireland. Nobody seemed to think that was a problem.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Some people seemingly disagreed with de Valera becoming President. Although, I’ll grant you, probably not because of his birthplace.

      • Hogan says:

        When a Jew was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin, Yogi Berra said, “It could only happen in America.”

      • LeeEsq says:

        Valera falls under the he helped create the modern political order exception.

      • Breadbaker says:

        Letting Wyoming have 3 electoral votes with a population of half a million and California have 78 times its population but less than 20 times its electoral votes is also undemocratic. Want to make a reasoned argument that part of the Constitution should also just wither away?

      • ajay says:

        Eamon de Valera was born in NYC. He became President of Ireland. Nobody seemed to think that was a problem.

        Well, no one thought it was a problem because of where he was born. They thought it was a problem because he was a vicious, bigoted tool, but you don’t have to be born in NYC for that to be the case.

        • Ronan says:

          emeritus professor of irish history Ronan fanning in the irish Times “Why is Éamon de Valera so unpopular on both sides of the Irish Sea?”

          “The purpose of Éamon de Valera: A Will to Power is to seek to reconcile a recognition of the catastrophic consequences of de Valera’s petulant rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921-22 with an acknowledgement of that remarkable understanding of state power and foreign policy in 1932-45 that identified him as the man who created a sovereign, independent Irish state. Although it also recognised that de Valera was the most divisive figure in 20th-century Irish history, the reception of the book since its publication a month ago has shown that, despite the passage of a hundred years since the Irish revolution, I underestimated his enduring unpopularity.
          But the roots of that unpopularity in Britain – or, more precisely, in England – are quite different from the roots of his unpopularity in Ireland. The English have an innate distaste for de Valera because he personifies an independent Irish national identity, just as they have in innate distaste for de Gaulle (who personifies Free France and the rejection of Anglo-American hegemony) and for Franco and Salazar. Nor is it coincidental that an unapologetically Catholic ethos was then an integral component of the Irish, Spanish and Portuguese states: anti-Catholicism, more frequently covert than overt, is never far beneath the surface of the British view of Europe.
          Inveterate English dislike of de Valera was encapsulated in the headlines over the review in the Sunday Times. “Too big for his boots. Hugely egotistical, de Valera believed in two things: nationalism and his own infallibility.” But it was Roy Foster, in a generous and penetrating review in the Spectator, who most elegantly captured this aspect of de Valera when he suggested that the title of one of Anthony Trollope’s novels would have well served as a title for this biography: He Knew He Was Right. That de Valera, in a phrase from the Sunday Times review, was “driven, humourless, arrogant and ascetic” is indisputable. But such self-belief is commonly characteristic of revolutionary leaders seeking to change the course of history.
          Another reason why de Valera has always had such a persistently bad press in Britain is because he is so signally fails to fit their stage-Irish stereotype: rumbustious, fun-loving, hard drinking, colourful and larger than life – an image which the British could readily pin on Michael Collins, for example, during the Treaty negotiations but which never fitted the austere and pedantic de Valera. But for his more educated and well-informed British critics the gravest charge against him was his identification with Irish neutrality in the second World War.
          The ramifications of Irish independence and its nomenclature, whether independent Ireland was described as the Irish Free State or as a republic externally associated with the British Commonwealth, mattered little to British governments between 1922 and 1938 (when the British transferred the ports that they had retained under a defence annex to the Treaty to Irish control in order to achieve the lowest common denominator of Ireland’s benign neutrality in the coming war). That was the theory but British attitudes in general – and Churchill’s in particular – understandably hardened in practice when de Valera denied the British the use of the ports during the second World War. The persistence of British contempt was well expressed in Nicholas Monsarrat’s bestselling novel, The Cruel Sea, published in 1951: “the cost, in men and ships, added months to the struggle, and ran up a score which Irish eyes a-smiling on the day of Allied victory was not going to cancel”. Contempt was compounded by de Valera’s pedantically grotesque error of judgement when he called at the home of the German envoy to Ireland to offer his condolences on the death of Hitler. That resentment among those old enough to remember the second World War lingers until the present day.”

        • Ahuitzotl says:

          … altho it helps

    • ThrottleJockey says:

      I think we have plenty enough Americans born here to be President that we don’t have to import any from Canada, or anyplace else for that matter. Divided loyalties are a thing. Far too many people already conflate Israeli security with US security, for instance.

  14. Dennis Orphen says:

    Will The Phantom trump Uncle Sam? Stay tuned.

  15. Dilan Esper says:

    I’m about as sick of this topic as I was of Tom Brady deflating the footballs.

    • dl says:

      that makes one of us.

    • Warren Terra says:

      There have been days when the whole blog was about sportsball, which has little appeal for me. The point there is those last two words – “for me”. Other people were interested in the topic! Sneering at them would have been wrong, in a bunch of ways!

      But, shine on you crazy diamond!

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Because of your lack of interest in sportsball, you missed the many comments Dilan left saying he had no interest in Ballghazi and the many other comments he left about the topic he didn’t care about.

        But if a team that Dilan cheered for had its star player suspended for a quarter of the season and lost a first round draft pick because of a trivial offense the league has no actual evidence was even committed, I’m sure he would have been similarly uninterested.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          I probably made 15 comments on Brady’s cheating, and they were all about the Federal Arbitration Act.

          But no, I don’t care. USC, a team I do root for, got railroaded by the NCAA on sanctions. I didn’t care. Unimportant sports shit is unimportant sports shit.

          And the natural born citizen clause is the absolute least important part of the Constitution.

          • Lee Rudolph says:

            And the natural born citizen clause is the absolute least important part of the Constitution.

            Go ahead, explicate the greater importance of the Third Amendment. I double-dog dare ya.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          You remembered something Dilan said in the past?!? What kind of obsessed loser ARE you? Don’t you know he has an important career, wonderful life, and many interesting hobbies??

        • Malaclypse says:

          Because of your lack of interest in sportsball, you missed the many comments Dilan left saying he had no interest in Ballghazi and the many other comments he left about the topic he didn’t care about.

          I will add this to the list of reasons why caring about sportsball doesn’t lead to happiness.

    • Ktotwf says:

      No. Every day that this debate continues and drags Ted Cruz down it is like angels massaging my heart while I win the Powerball for the third time in a row.

  16. Lev says:

    I just thought of something. If GOP party actors were smart, they could

    1) Back Cruz against Trump to the hilt. Circle the wagons over the natural born citizen clause, protect him from criticism, etc.
    2) Insist that in exchange for this backing, Cruz picks a VP they want.
    3) If Cruz wins, have some front group sue over this issue–it goes to the Supreme Court, where the partisan hacks on the Roberts Court can declare Cruz ineligible (and the CJ can probably get himself another round of praise from dumb people for it).
    4) VP-elect John Thune then gets to be president.

    Thing is, it would all be perfectly legal, and while Cruz fans would be angry, they’re so small in number nobody would care.

    • That plan is not crazy enough, it will never work.

    • NonyNony says:

      I mean, if your definition of “smart” is “suicidally stupid” then yeah, that’s a plan.

      (Do you think that 2018 would be a good year for anyone involved in that plan? I certainly don’t. If the voters have chosen Cruz and the party elites found a way to remove him from office there would likely be blood in the streets.)

    • alex284 says:

      Or – hear me out – the GOP can do nothing on this, continue to divide the anti-Trump vote among a dozen people, lose the Trump/Palin vs. Clinton/whoever general election, and blame the whole thing on how the vetting never happened.

  17. CrunchyFrog says:

    You know, this little back-and-forth is a perfect example to demonstrate why Trump has been so successful in the polls despite saying dozens of things that would derail just about every other candidate.

    He’s pulls out of the debate. Cruz uses the tried-and-true tactic of challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate. In normal elections this is a win-win for Cruz (unless Trump accepts the debate and Cruz performs poorly). On the one hand, Trump says no and it appears he scared of Cruz. On the other hand, Trump accepts and doing so automatically improves Cruz’ standing and gives him a media op.

    Then Trump comes back with this – so perfect. You have to admire it despite how evil he is – like the cutting of the arms in Apocalypse Now – because it’s so damn effective. Cruz has absolutely nowhere to go now. “But I am eligible” he says meekly, while even more doubt his eligibility than before. And Trump made it crystal clear it’s Cruz’ responsibility to resolve the issue, not Trump’s.

    Reminds me of an old Carlin bit about college football scores. Bits like: “William and Mary – 6. Nick and Tony – 105”. Then he gets to: “Cal Tech – 14.5. MIT – 3 to the 4th power”. Cruz thought he was so clever, but he was Cal Tech to Trump’s MIT.

  18. UserGoogol says:

    Why is the cases or controversies clause interpreted the way it is? “Controversies” is a very vague term: we have a controversy and people want the courts to settle it. I suppose from a legal realist perspective the answer is that courts find the idea of advisory rulings more trouble than they’re worth, which may be true. And certainly the precedent is extremely old. But it all seems kind of arbitrary.

  19. CrunchyFrog says:

    I also have to give Trump credit for being willing to take risks. Not attending the debate tonight certainly presents risks – at least per conventional wisdom. The other candidates may all beat up on you, with no response (certainly the Fox hosts would be happy to support that). Or one of them may really shine with you not there (certainly the right wing media will decide to trumpet one of the other candidates afterwards, as they have done with every other debate).

    But Trump is betting that ratings will be a lot lower without him there, and he’s almost certainly right. Then tomorrow he’ll point out the low ratings to say that without him no one is paying attention to the GOP. And that will be the headlines and anything else will be forgotten quickly.

    Quite the contrast. The Democratic frontrunner is running the most cautious campaign imaginable, while the GOP frontrunner is breaking just about every campaigning rule-of-thumb there is.

    • Matt McIrvin says:

      I have to wonder: Trump doesn’t lead in most general-election polls, and a bare majority of Americans actually seem to be upset about the prospect of him winning, but… you think he can just effortlessly destroy the Democratic nominee, whether it’s Clinton or Sanders, in the same way he has all the Republicans? He’s already trying to get at Hillary via her husband’s old sex scandals, and it might have actually done some damage. At least, her numbers are down, whether it was about that or not.

      Does this kind of head-on, intentionally offensive, yes-I-went-there attack only work in a Republican primary, or is it just going to work always? Maybe he makes a crack or two in the debates about Hillary being on the rag, and boom, he’s President?

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        was the one time so far that Trump’s mouth did him *any* harm when he went after Fiorina’s looks?

        Trump’s method of going after the republicans has worked so well for so long now he won’t drop it, so if it gets him the nomination I hardly think he’ll change his methods for the general. I don’t see how it doesn’t get ugly

      • random says:

        Does this kind of head-on, intentionally offensive, yes-I-went-there attack only work in a Republican primary, or is it just going to work always?

        It only works in a Republican primary.

        Maybe he makes a crack or two in the debates about Hillary being on the rag, and boom, he’s President?

        No, not only would this have the opposite effect of making him President, it would also make other purple and blue-state Republicans denounce him in an effort to save their jobs. Think ‘legitimate rape/shut that whole thing down’ but with the President instead of some nobody from Missouri.

        • Matt McIrvin says:

          And yet, and yet, Trump seems to have been completely immune to having these things backfire on him up to now, even though people kept predicting it over and over. Is it just that the Republican voter base is a bunch of far more horrible people than anyone suspected? Or is it something about Donald Trump specifically?

          • LosGatosCA says:

            They aren’t any more horrible today than they were in 2012 when they yelled ‘Let him die’ or the equivalent for someone without medical insurance.

            Goldwater’s campaign was definitely a call to the dark side. Nixon was the dark side.Reagan’s soul was so dark he started his campaign where white supremacists murdered ‘outside agitators’, Bush/Cheney ‘let’s bomb those folks we can’t torture’ – that’s several generations of appeals to the baser instincts of people without a shred of compassion or human decency. Their conservative godfather,WFB, was as nasty a POS as they come.

            Their enabling accomplices don’t deserve any benefit of any doubt either.

            So, no they aren’t more horrible than imagined they have always been this horrible.

          • random says:

            And yet, and yet, Trump seems to have been completely immune to having these things backfire on him up to now,

            Outside of the GOP they have backfired on him, immensely. As a result he’s now unelectable and the Democrats are guaranteed another 4 years in the White House if he’s on the ballot. He also poses a threat to a number of other Republicans up for election in November as well.

            even though people kept predicting it over and over.

            I have consistently told those people that they were wrong and have said that Trump was the favorite to win the primary since last summer. But the things that make him good in a GOP primary also make him the weakest general election candidate in modern history.

            Is it just that the Republican voter base is a bunch of far more horrible people than anyone suspected?

            The only reason the answer to that question is ‘no’ is because plenty of people have suspected that they were this horrible.

      • efgoldman says:

        Maybe he makes a crack or two in the debates about Hillary being on the rag, and boom, he’s President?

        Nope. It works with the mouth breathers, because the Republiklown primary voters are the most extreme in their hate, spite, and ignorance. So, pending actual votes next week, Trump and opossum on his head appeal to about a third of the 27%.
        A general election is another story. Think Todd Akin. All Democrats, most women, and a lot of undecideds will be disgusted by a tactic like that. Plus you can be sure that HRC’s campaign won’t take it lying down, and probably have ads already written.

        Is it just that the Republican voter base is a bunch of far more horrible people than anyone suspected?

        Well, they’re certainly not more horrible than I expected, not after they cheered the theoretical possibility of someone dying because of no medical insurance, as they did last cycle.

  20. MacK says:

    Years ago there used to be something called the “laugh test” or the “smile test” – i.e., it was ok to make a legal argument with a straight face – admittedly Ted Cruz is not a natural born american is so hilariously ironic that it is hard not to laugh for the wrong reasons.

    The argument – at least to me – just passes the laugh test – but it’s not a winner, imho.

  21. Joe_JP says:

    Mark Field is now available for consultant work for any presidential candidate who wants advice on their natural birth citizenship status. I’m here for free takeout to provide a “don’t worry, he’s wrong” counter-opinion* if the conclusion is “sorry, denied!”

    * the price is a bit steep, but seems fair

  22. Thom says:

    It’s a Canadian plot to take over the US. Neil Young was just the vanguard.

  23. N__B says:

    RIP Paul Kantner.

  24. joe from Lowell says:

    “Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,”

    That’s the way the system works?

    My civics teacher sucked!

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