The issue has come up again as news reports have circulated about John McCain's birthplace -- a military base in what was then the Canal Zone and is now Panama. (Since running for president in 2000, McCain has had a legal defense ready.) And as the New York Times points out, George Romney was born in Mexico but ran for president in 1968; former Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker ran in 1980, despite having been born in Paris; and Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee in 1964, was born in Arizona Territory.
McCain isn't ignoring the issue -- he has former Solicitor General Ted Olson updating his legal analysis just in case. Still, no man born outside the United States has ever been elected president.
Those little flag pins that were so popular for a while -- on everybody from FOX News anchors to politicians of every stripe -- are fading from lapels. Still, guys like pundit William Kristol won't let it die, recently mocking Barack Obama for his flagless lapel.
Now Salon.com has done a little analysis of the fate of flag-wearers, and it seems to contradict conventional wisdom. By looking back on early debates to see who chose to wear a flag pin, Salon concluded that winners are going flagless these days.
At the first Democratic debate, only Joe Biden wore a flag pin. At the first GOP debate, surprisingly, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and even John McCain left their lapels barren. The common denominator? Flag-wearers are out of the race. And despite the cries from some in the GOP, neither McCain nor Huckabee has been seen with a pin often. And Obama and Hillary Clinton never wear them.
John Prine once had a song called "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore." Whatever the reason, that little flag doesn't seem like it can get you in the White House, either.