Birthplace dispute is a debate distraction
Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Charleston, S.C., was the best so far. The spirited exchanges showed voters the differences among the seven candidates onstage, while highlighting all the Republicans’ differences with the Democratic candidates. With several candidates having dropped out, the field was narrower. And, with the Iowa Caucuses approaching in two weeks, and the New Hampshire primary in three weeks, contradictions were heightened before Republican voters finally get a say.
The most spirited exchange was between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz over the latter’s birth in Alberta, Canada. We believe the senator is qualified to run for president because his mother was an American citizen born here. Sen. Cruz pointed out that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, was born in the Panama Canal Zone. And he poked Mr. Trump over his mother being born in Scotland.
But a 1904 law passed by Congress made Americans born in the Panama Canal Zone citizens. And Mr. Trump was correct that, should Sen. Cruz be nominated for president or vice president, the Democratic nominee — or friends in the media or running independent Super PACs — would bring up the matter in the general election campaign. Essentially, this dispute is not about the Constitution, but politics. Sen. Cruz has shunned seeking a court determination of his eligibility, but it might be the only way to clear up the matter.
Gov. Chris Christie rejected Trump’s call to temporarily keep out Muslim immigrants, instead favoring the repeal of a law Congress passed last year limiting National Security Agency powers to snoop on American citizens without a warrant.
Gov. Jeb Bush went even further: “We should put the NSA in charge of the civilian side of this as well,” meaning control over Apple, Google and other technology companies that have introduced communication encryption that’s hard for the government to break. He mentioned that the federal Office of Personnel Management was hacked, putting “23 million files in the hands of the Chinese.”
This point is where we missed the libertarian voice of Sen. Rand Paul, who was dropped from the larger debate field because of low poll numbers. He might have pointed out that, if the government can’t even protect its own data, how is it supposed to protect the private data of a federalized Google and Apple, not just from the Chinese hackers, but from ISIS?
Most positive were candidate proposals to cut taxes and regulations to produce more economic growth. That contrasted with the Democrats’ calls for higher taxes and for redistributing wealth instead of helping create more of it.
The next Republican debate is set for Jan. 28, in Des Moines, Iowa, four days before the Iowa Caucuses.
Reprinted from the Orange County Register
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