Is John McCain qualified to be president?

Maybe not, and not just because of his legendary temper. It seems that because McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, he may not meet the citizenship requirements.

In a nutshell, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution states that “No person except a natural born Citizen… shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Under law in effect at the time of McCain’s birth, he was not born on United States soil and thus not a “natural born citizen”.

It seems like hairs are being split, but a good lawyer could make this case — although it’s probably not going to keep Sen. McCain from the ballot in November. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill introduced legislation today that would define a “natural-born citizen” as anyone born to any U.S. citizen while serving in the active or reserve components of the U.S. armed forces.

Interestingly, Barack Obama’s campaign announced this evening that he’ll co-sponsor the bill.

Now, here’s the intriguing part of this story: Is it possible that McCain’s candidacy is being used to set a precedent to allow naturalized citizens to someday become president of the United States? Someone like, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Remember those radio and TV ads a few years back that suggested we were being unfair by excluding the foreign-born from the Oval Office? That was about the time Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) proposed legislation in the Senate that would allow any naturalized citizen who’d been in the U.S. for twenty years to run for president.

Just about the time that Arnold entered the recall election and became the governor of California.

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