No President Arnold: Governor Schwartzenegger Is the Reason for the Weak Republican Presidential Field

   In any presidential election, the Governor of California, the most populous state with almost one-fifth of the electoral votes needed for election, is an automatic contender.  Richard Nixon was a Senator from California before becoming Vice-President.  Ronald Reagan was Governor.  Jerry Brown ran for the Democratic nomination for president.  Pete Wilson was prominently mentioned as a candidate for the Oval Office.

   This year, a Republican Governor of California, a normally strongly Democratic state, would be a strong candidate for president.  Politics abhors a vacuum, but the fact that Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger was born in Austria precludes a presidential run.  Therefore, although Schwartzenegger is politically strong, (he campaigned for Bush in Ohio in the crucial final stretch of the 2004 election) his absence from the presidential sweepstakes has left the field open to lesser, weaker candidates.  The poor turnout in the Iowa straw poll this weekend confirms the dismal prospects for the Republican presidential contenders next year.

   Recognizing this anomaly, Schwartzenegger himself has let it be known that he thinks he should be allowed to seek the highest office.  Changing the constitution to allow foreign born candidates to run for president would be a disaster for the nation.

   The Constitution generously allows foreign born persons the right to hold every elective office except President of the United States.  The Constitution clearly states that only a "natural-born" American may be President.  It is this Constitutional concept of "natural-born" that is imperative to preserve.  The United States is a nation of immigrants.  That is the soul and spirit of the nation.  The vast majority of Americans are immigrants.  The Constitution makes it clear that it is possible to become an American by virtue of an act of nature, without the intercession of government or laws.  The concept of a natural-born person is integral to the identity of the nation.  Get rid of natural-born, and the United States ceases to be itself and would metamorphose into something closer to Germany or Israel, where citizenship is limited to people of certain blood lines.

   And it is no coincidence that someone born in Austria, the nation that gave the world Adolf Hitler, would try to nudge the United States toward a more restricted view of citizenship cleverly disguised as removing restrictions.  Although Austria was an ally of Germany in World War II, with a comparably racist record, the allies created the myth that Austria was conquered by Germany and, therefore, less "guilty".  Arnold has traded on Americans' ignorance of the nuances of middle European diplomacy and history to present himself as a good alt boy (not to mention its ignorance of its own Constitution) to promote himself.

   Schwartzenegger is president in the Simpson's movie, a comedy, which is where his administration should remain.  Charles DeGaulle once said that a nation has no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests.  People are, to a certain extent, like plants.  Their identities are inextricably linked with the places of their childhoods.  Most presidents of most nations hail from the geographic center of their countries.  That is the vantage point necessary to understand the nation's permanent interests and understand the external threats.  Arnold may be a nice guy, a good actor, and even an excellent politician; but he would be a disaster as president of the United States because someone who grew up in post-war Austria, which isn't even allowed to have ammunition for its tanks, and was never subject to the draft, would be a catastrophe as commander-in-chief.  Only someone with no sense of America's permanent national interests could have campaigned for Bush in 2004.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf