Presidential qualifications: Unclogging the politics from government
By Frank Salvato
"That no more qualifies someone to be president than being a plumber." That's what Vice President Joe Biden said about the private equity experience as it relates to qualifications for being the President of the United States. As the politically aware look on in stunned silence, one has to wonder if good ol' Joe didn't go rogue from the Obama campaign approved teleprompter script. Why else would he bring up the subject of qualifications, a subject on which President Obama is intensely vulnerable?
The subject of qualifications for the office of President of the United States is a contentious one, if not one that must be addressed from two vantage points: the legal qualifications set forth by the United States Constitution and the practical knowledge vantage point; the amassed experience of any given candidate. And where one is enshrined in the Founding Documents, the other is open to debate.
Constitutionally, the qualifications are clear, at least to those who choose not to politicize the document. Article II, Section 1, states:
And while there are some who point to this section of the Constitution when speaking of President Obama's qualifications, I would point out two poignant issues related to the issue.
First, the definition of "natural born citizen" is one that has been politicized, by that I mean that politicians have taken it upon themselves to craft different definitions throughout history for the phrase. Until a definition for the purposes specific to Article II, Section 1 are enshrined in the Constitution via the amendment process, the definition will always be subject to nefarious forces.
Second, no enforcement mechanism related to Article II, Section 1 exists in the US Constitution. By this I mean that there is no constitutionally mandated protocol, no set process, by which first-source documentation of a candidate's qualifications can be verified. Further, short of impeachment, there is no method to remove a sitting President should he be found out to be in violation of Article II, Section 1, and with the jadedly polarized political atmosphere in Washington today, impeachment would be next to impossible.
Until these two issues are addressed there will always be those who question a candidates qualifications to hold office, and rightly so. Each of us – each citizen of the United States – has the obligation to provide governmental oversight for the singular reason that the government exists exclusively by our creation, even if it doesn't feel that way at the moment. This is the express reason why I take issue with any federal judge saying "the people" do not have standing to advance a constitutional argument through the system.
But the issue of practical qualifications is a much more contentious and subjective issue. The question of what experiences a candidate should have amassed during his or her life before they should be considered for the highest office in the land is, indeed, a good question and one that should be vetted through the political process. In a perfect world, the mainstream media would examine, investigate and scrutinize each serious contender for the presidency. It is for this reason – among others – that a free press has is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Today, as with government in general, the mainstream media has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to act in the best interest of the American people, and because of this our political candidates are "marketed" to us. Today's journalistic vetting is rife with opinion, innuendo, rumor and unfounded "fact," offered up by "journalists" who champion their preferred ideology to the detriment of those they do not support politically, the governmental process and, in fact, the nation. True, history has witnessed eras where the press has been less than virtuous, but never before have the ideologues willingly committed the journalistic "sin of omission" with such abandon; the crime of manipulating the masses for the sake of ideological gain with such disregard for the future of the country.
And so, because the "free press" has abdicated its constitutional duty, the majority of the American people really have no understanding of just who President Obama is: who he was as a child; as an indignant teen; as a pseudo-Marxist in his later college years; and then as a full-fledged member of the Progressive Movement as a community organizer and rising star in the Progressive wing of the Democrat Party. We have accurate accounting of his early political years: of Mr. Obama's influences; of his benefactors and with whom he chose to keep company.
Conversely, if the "free press" had been operating for the public good – the sole reason for its First Amendment protection – we would have come to understand just what it is that a private equity firm does; how they create jobs and save companies, and thus, save families and the dreams of parents for their children. If we had an honest media that lived up to its constitutional duty, we would be fed the disingenuous political pabulum that is the Labor Department statistics on unemployment or have to digest the intellectual feces that is the notion being foisted upon us that Mr. Obama is a fiscal conservative.
If we had an honest mainstream media...
In addition, the question of education should be addressed. To paraphrase a common sentiment regarding degrees: fifty percent of all graduates graduated in the lower half of their classes (think about that the next time you contemplate the benefits of the Obamacare health insurance scheme and what doctors you will be forced to see).
While it is impressive for someone to have graduated from an Ivy League school – which both presumptive presidential candidates have – it is less about the name on the diploma and more about what was learned; what was studied. If a graduate has chosen to see only the flaws in the United States; if during his collegiate tenure he "sought out Marxist professors" and studied the principles of Socialism and 1960s era social justice revolution, it is hard to say that his education is advantageous to preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States.
True, an honest and accomplished community organizer would have the skill set needed to motivate people to action – or at least to accept what people are being motivated to do. But if the ideology is decidedly anti-Capitalist and anti-American, it would seem to this writer that the community organizer in the office of the presidency would be the most potent weapon our enemies could have.
On the other hand, someone who has studied the principles of Capitalism – and, therefore, by default a core tenet catalyst for the creation of our country – would naturally be drawn to the concept of freedom: freedom to trade, to produce, to profit and to prosper. A student of Capitalism – and, by default, an appreciator of Americanism – would have an intimate knowledge of the business sector and understand the pitfalls of fiscal irresponsibility. He – or she – would be well armed with many ideas related to "expanding" or "capitalizing" on "his investment." In the political world that would translate to understanding just how the private sector business world needs to be treated, cajoled and incentivized to expand, thus creating jobs and, thus, creating additional revenue streams for the federal government.
Which brings us back to Vice President Biden's quip: "That no more qualifies someone to be president than being a plumber." Because the plumber offers a service for hire, the plumber understands: supply and demand, the need for operational capital, capital re-investment, payroll, and taxation among a great many other things a small business man – or woman – has to contend with on a daily basis. The plumber understands – because he lives it – the minutia of free enterprise, the reward of risk taken, the losses associated with failed risk and the, especially, the capitalization of opportunity. By virtue of his job, the plumber understands American economics in real time, not in projections, not in theory or assumption; he understands American economics at the wallet.
As for the community organizer, who offers no product but for motivation...well, can the same be said of his understanding of American economics? Especially if he studied subjects that made him dislike Americanism in his youth?
For me, I'll take the plumber. Thanks for pointing that out, Joe.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamic jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, "Ezekiel and the MidEast 'Piece' Process: Israel's Neighbor States." He is the author of the series Understanding the Threat of Radical Islam, an educational pamphlet series. Mr. Salvato is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting and ABC Starguide Satellite Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. He is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. Mr. Salvato has been interviewed on Radio Belgrade One. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.comand Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at email@example.com.