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Friday, February 29, 2008

Another weird Times story on McCain

I found the topic of presidential candidates' potential citizenship conflicts really interesting. But the McCain peg in it seemed kind of weak.

From the lede:

"In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming."

OK, I thought, how come?

Second graph:

"Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate."

OK, I thought, there's a debate. First I've heard of it. I'll read on.

McCain, you see, was born on a military installation in the Panama Canal. So "given mounting interest," the Times taasked "Theodore B. Olson, a former solicitor general now advising Mr. McCain, to prepare a detailed legal analysis." Olson apparently told The Times he has little doubt, but he's not done researching.

OK: 1. what mounting interest? I still haven't been told who is talking about this. 2. Why did they ask someone who is working for McCain to provide a detailed legal analysis (for free? I don't get it) and 3. Why are they running the story before he's done with his detailed legal analysis?

Eleven paragraphs later, toward the end of the story, "But whether he qualifies as natural-born has been a topic of Internet buzz for months, with some declaring him ineligible while others assert that he meets all the basic constitutional qualifications." Followed by a quote of someone who supports the latter assertion.

So there's a rising debate, but no one in the story ever expresses the view that is purportedly the point of the story, that some question whether McCain is eligible, with multiple sources expressing the view that he is. Very, very weird read.