Tales from the Trail

The strange vogue in dumping U.S. citizenship

In 2005, a CUNY political science professor named Stanley Renshon compared citizenship without emotional attachment to “the civic equivalent of a one-night stand.”

Michele Bachmann’s fling with Switzerland lasted just 53 days – barely two of them public – before she came running back to Uncle Sam. That was right before Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin was found to have called it all off with the U.S, possibly for tax reasons.

Bachmann, who came out as Swiss to Politico on Tuesday, made headlines for deciding to split her allegiances – if only on paper – with a gay-friendly, abortion-happy Western European country. Her temporary Swissness made a farce of her fiery patriotic rhetoric, and added a cosmopolitan edge to her down-home image – an image she was counting on for her constituents to vote her back into office this coming term.

Yesterday, Bachmann declared that she had written to the Swiss government and asked them to withdraw her citizenship, which she’d acquired through her husband, Marcus. “I am and always have been 100% committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America,” she said in a statement. “I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen.”

Bachmann’s decision to become Swiss in the first place was a strange one – not because being a dual national is necessarily a bad thing (full disclosure: I have three passports, including one that is Swiss) but because it raised questions about the image Bachmann cultivated for years. She claimed to be naturalizing for her children’s sake, even though Swiss law does not require her to do so in order for them to acquire their own passports. She also put her eligibility for certain types of security clearance at risk, which isn’t a problem for members of Congress, but could pose complications if she ran for higher office.

Democrats, Republicans agree McCain is a ‘natural’

WASHINGTON – In a rare display of political harmony, Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee came together on behalf of presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.rtr1ik2w.jpg

On a 19-0 vote on Thursday, they approved a sense of the Senate resolution that declares McCain is indeed a “natural born” U.S. citizen and thus eligible under the Constitution to be president.

Questions have been raised because McCain was born outside of the United States — to Americans parents on a military base in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. control.