Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) proposes amending the constitution to allow naturalized citizens to hold an office even Zanzibar-born Freddie Mercury assured Americans he didn't want: the President of America.
The proposed amendment makes for some interesting splits among pols in California (and presumably, other states). Governor Schwarzenegger, no doubt eyeing a federal ban on foie gras, supports the idea. GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has introduced a similar bill in the House. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is all for it but quibbles over the necessary time of residency and/or citizenship. But fellow Democrat (and naturalized citizen) Rep. Tom Lantos comes out strongly against:
I am irrevocably opposed. Our Constitution should only be amended for the most pressing and substantive reasons. There are 250 million native-born Americans, and there ought to be enough talent among them to find someone to serve as president.
"But," Lantos adds in his most charming Count Chocula accent, "if there is a restoration of the Austro-Hungarian empire, I am ready to consider a joint candidacy with Arnold, provided I am on top of the ticket."
Although the Bush/Kerry race gives the lie to the idea that our native-born talent pool is large enough, I kind of side with Lantos on this one. Being denied the presidency is a pretty light burden for a naturalized citizen to bear, and in the absence of any pressing need, amending the constitution should always be a low priority. But I'm willing to be persuaded on this issue.