Sorry, Bill Clinton. You can't be president of France or Ireland

In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, the 42nd president discusses some other countries where he might be able to run for president -- technically speaking, of course -- and also reveals that he's clearly spent a lot of time thinking about this: 

Said Clinton: "There are only two countries I'm eligible to run for the leadership position is if I move to Ireland and buy a house, I can -- I can run for president of Ireland, because of my Irish heritage."

"And because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of the Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that was born in a place that ever was part of the French empire, if you move to -- if you live in France for six months and speak French, you can run for president."

"However, I once polled very well in a French presidential race. And I said, you know, this is great, but that's the best I'd ever do because once they heard my broken French with a Southern accent, I would drop into single digits within a week and I'd be toast."

I wrote an explainer at the height of the Obama-Trump birth certificate insanity looking into whether it would be theoretically possible for Obama to run for the president of some other country. For instance, the president could claim Kenyan citizenship through his Kenyan father and then run for the presidency after he establishes residency. But what about the less exotically backgrounded Bill?

FP contributor Alex Massie calls BS on the Ireland claim, noting that Clinton doesn't have any Irish grandparents. According to Irish law, "Unless at least one parent or grandparent was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you cannot claim Irish citizenship on the basis of extended previous ancestry." It is possible for the Justice Minister to waive the requirement if "If you are of Irish descent or of Irish associations." So essentially, the current government can decide whether or not to make an exception for Clinton in order to greenlight his presidential ambitions. Popular as he is, this seems like an unlikely scenario. 

What about France? Clinton likely got the Louisiana Purchase idea from political scientist Patrick Weil, who wrote an open letter to him in the New York Times in 2001 suggesting it:

Under Section 5 of Article 21-19 of the French civil code, citizens of states or territories over which France has ever exercised sovereignty or extended a mandate or protectorate may apply immediately for naturalization, without the normal five-year residency requirement.

Arkansas, where you were born, was once part of French Louisiana. And as a naturalized French citizen, you would have the same full rights as all other French citizens. That includes running for the presidency.

Unfortunately for Clinton, and his fellow Louisiana territory residents, Section 5 has been been abrogé and doesn't appear in the current version of the code. According to a footnote in a 2004 New York Review of Books article, "After Weil's article made this provision of the French nationality law notorious, the French parliament abolished it in on July 24, 2006."

Of course, it's theoretically possible for Clinton to move to a country that doesn't have a natural-born citizenship requirement for the presidency, become a citizen the old-fashioned way, and then run. But it doesn't look like his birthplace or ancestry are going to help him out here.

Sorry Bill. 


NYC anti-Islam subway ads lead to pink spray paint showdown

Prominent Egyptian-American journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy, author of FP's May/June cover story, was arrested on Tuesday in New York City and jailed overnight following a scuffle over American Freedom Defense Initiative leader Pamela Geller's anti-Islam subway ads. In a video shot by the New York Post, Eltahawy is seen defacing one of the ads with a can of pink spray paint, until Pamela Hall, a supporter of Geller's initiative, throws herself into the line of fire.

"Mona, do you have the right to do this?" Hall yells.

"I think this is freedom of expression," Eltahawy counters before letting loose with her brightly colored weapon of choice.

Things continue in this vein until NYPD officers intervene and promptly handcuff an indignant Eltahawy, who is clad in a coat almost the same shade as her paint.

"This is what happens when you nonviolently protest in America!" she shouts to the gathering crowd.

Eltahawy was later charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, and possession of a graffiti instrument, all misdemeanors.

Geller's ads, which read "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man" and conclude with "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad," have been the cause of a legal and political firestorm in recent weeks. In late August, a federal court ruled that the Metropolitan Transit Authority couldn't prevent the ads from being posted. This order was unaffected by the spate of violent anti-American protests over the anti-Islam film "The Innocence of Muslims" currently taking place across the globe.

"Our hands are tied," Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority, told the New York Times. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the decision on Sept. 21, saying that Americans often have to tolerate things they find offensive because of the First Amendment.

Geller later blogged her version of the pink spray paint spat, calling Eltahawy a "thug" and correctly predicting that "This criminal behavior and fascism will be lauded in Leftist circles." The flurry of celebratory tweets from Eltahawy's many Twitter followers following her arrest would seem to confirm Geller's fears.

Today, only the squat silhouette of a woman outlined in pink serves as a reminder of the confrontation, but Eltahawy's arrest has become something of a social media legend, inspiring the hashtags #freemona and #proudsavage as well as an online parody.

"As an US citizen I know that non-violent civil disobedience is one of many ways to fight racism," Eltahawy later tweeted.

If only Gandhi had thought of acquiring a can of pink spray paint.