Last Updated:November 25 @ 11:06 am

Salvato: Presidential Qualifications - Unclogging the Politics from Government

By Frank Salvato

“That no more qualifies someone to be president than being a plumber.” That’s what Vice President Joe Biden said about the private equity experience as it relates to qualifications for being the President of the United States. As the politically aware look on in stunned silence, one has to wonder if good ol’ Joe didn’t go rogue from the Obama campaign approved teleprompter script. Why else would he bring up the subject of qualifications, a subject on which President Obama is intensely vulnerable?

The subject of qualifications for the office of President of the United States is a contentious one, if not one that must be addressed from two vantage points: the legal qualifications set forth by the United States Constitution and the practical knowledge vantage point; the amassed experience of any given candidate. And where one is enshrined in the Founding Documents, the other is open to debate.

Constitutionally, the qualifications are clear, at least to those who choose not to politicize the document. Article II, Section 1, states:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

And while there are some who point to this section of the Constitution when speaking of President Obama’s qualifications, I would point out two poignant issues related to the issue.

First, the definition of “natural born citizen” is one that has been politicized, by that I mean that politicians have taken it upon themselves to craft different definitions throughout history for the phrase. Until a definition for the purposes specific to Article II, Section 1 are enshrined in the Constitution via the amendment process, the definition will always be subject to nefarious forces.

Second, no enforcement mechanism related to Article II, Section 1 exists in the US Constitution. By this I mean that there is no constitutionally mandated protocol, no set process, by which first-source documentation of a candidate’s qualifications can be verified. Further, short of impeachment, there is no method to remove a sitting President should he be found out to be in violation of Article II, Section 1, and with the jadedly polarized political atmosphere in Washington today, impeachment would be next to impossible.

Until these two issues are addressed there will always be those who question a candidates qualifications to hold office, and rightly so. Each of us – each citizen of the United States – has the obligation to provide governmental oversight for the singular reason that the government exists exclusively by our creation, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the moment. This is the express reason why I take issue with any federal judge saying “the people” do not have standing to advance a constitutional argument through the system.

But the issue of practical qualifications is a much more contentious and subjective issue. The question of what experiences a candidate should have amassed during his or her life before they should be considered for the highest office in the land is, indeed, a good question and one that should be vetted through the political process. In a perfect world, the mainstream media would examine, investigate and scrutinize each serious contender for the presidency. It is for this reason – among others – that a free press has is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Today, as with government in general, the mainstream media has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to act in the best interest of the American people, and because of this our political candidates are “marketed” to us. Today’s journalistic vetting is rife with opinion, innuendo, rumor and unfounded “fact,” offered up by “journalists” who champion their preferred ideology to the detriment of those they do not support politically, the governmental process and, in fact, the nation. True, history has witnessed eras where the press has been less than virtuous, but never before have the ideologues willingly committed the journalistic “sin of omission” with such abandon; the crime of manipulating the masses for the sake of ideological gain with such disregard for the future of the country.

And so, because the “free press” has abdicated its constitutional duty, the majority of the American people really have no understanding of just who President Obama is: who he was as a child; as an indignant teen; as a pseudo-Marxist in his later college years; and then as a full-fledged member of the Progressive Movement as a community organizer and rising star in the Progressive wing of the Democrat Party. We have accurate accounting of his early political years: of Mr. Obama’s influences; of his benefactors and with whom he chose to keep company.

Conversely, if the “free press” had been operating for the public good – the sole reason for its First Amendment protection – we would have come to understand just what it is that a private equity firm does; how they create jobs and save companies, and thus, save families and the dreams of parents for their children. If we had an honest media that lived up to its constitutional duty, we would be fed the disingenuous political pabulum that is the Labor Department statistics on unemployment or have to digest the intellectual feces that is the notion being foisted upon us that Mr. Obama is a fiscal conservative.

If we had an honest mainstream media...

In addition, the question of education should be addressed. To paraphrase a common sentiment regarding degrees: fifty percent of all graduates graduated in the lower half of their classes (think about that the next time you contemplate the benefits of the Obamacare health insurance scheme and what doctors you will be forced to see).

While it is impressive for someone to have graduated from an Ivy League school – which both presumptive presidential candidates have – it is less about the name on the diploma and more about what was learned; what was studied. If a graduate has chosen to see only the flaws in the United States; if during his collegiate tenure he “sought out Marxist professors” and studied the principles of Socialism and 1960s era social justice revolution, it is hard to say that his education is advantageous to preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States.

True, an honest and accomplished community organizer would have the skill set needed to motivate people to action – or at least to accept what people are being motivated to do. But if the ideology is decidedly anti-Capitalist and anti-American, it would seem to this writer that the community organizer in the office of the presidency would be the most potent weapon our enemies could have.

On the other hand, someone who has studied the principles of Capitalism – and, therefore, by default a core tenet catalyst for the creation of our country – would naturally be drawn to the concept of freedom: freedom to trade, to produce, to profit and to prosper. A student of Capitalism – and, by default, an appreciator of Americanism – would have an intimate knowledge of the business sector and understand the pitfalls of fiscal irresponsibility. He – or she – would be well armed with many ideas related to “expanding” or “capitalizing” on “his investment.” In the political world that would translate to understanding just how the private sector business world needs to be treated, cajoled and incentivized to expand, thus creating jobs and, thus, creating additional revenue streams for the federal government.

Which brings us back to Vice President Biden’s quip: “That no more qualifies someone to be president than being a plumber.” Because the plumber offers a service for hire, the plumber understands: supply and demand, the need for operational capital, capital re-investment, payroll, and taxation among a great many other things a small business man – or woman – has to contend with on a daily basis. The plumber understands – because he lives it – the minutia of free enterprise, the reward of risk taken, the losses associated with failed risk and the, especially, the capitalization of opportunity. By virtue of his job, the plumber understands American economics in real time, not in projections, not in theory or assumption; he understands American economics at the wallet.

As for the community organizer, who offers no product but for motivation...well, can the same be said of his understanding of American economics? Especially if he studied subjects that made him dislike Americanism in his youth?

For me, I’ll take the plumber. Thanks for pointing that out, Joe.


Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.orgMr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at

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  1. galexComment by galex
    May 25, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    Ya’ know, the more Biden talks, the better the Republicans chances look in November. I find it hard to believe the Democrats haven’t put a gag on him yet.

    Keep talkin’ Joe!

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    • downdraftComment by downdraft
      May 26, 2012 @ 12:46 pm


      “For me, I’ll take the plumber. Thanks for pointing that out, Joe.”

      I would think plumbers all over America would take offense to Biden…

      Given our current miserably misfits who live and work out of the Oval Office, when you consider the Pelosis, the Reids,the Barney Fruitcakes, Biden…then

      …one must remember PLumbers are trained clean the schitsky out of the pipes…so, THEY ARE THE MOST QUALIFIED…

      Joe the Plumber for PRESIDENT

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  2. JDZComment by JDZ
    May 25, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    There is a rumor that the DNC may ask Obama to replace Biden as VP in this year’s election, and because of the trends away from Obama toward Romney of the latest polls, Obama may just throw good ole Joe under the bus like he did Rev Wright and others in 2008. He has never stopped campaigning for HIMSELF since he entered politics, and he will do or say anything that he believes will give him an advantage with the voters.

    As to Obama’s qualifications for President, especially when being compared with Romney, it was and still is a joke and his poor job performance to date should have been expected by anyone with half a brain. Mitt Romney is the “real thing” and few that go into national level politics have the education and professional background of a Mitt Romney. If you think about those that have run for President over the last 50 years, who would you say has comparable or better both business and government experience to bring to the office? I have a problem naming anyone.

    Most of our really sharp successful Americans in our private industries would never think about going into public service (politics) for a number of reasons, and those that try it typically get so frustrated with the bureaucracy and the inability to really make much headway in doing anything substantial, and they finally give it up and go back to private industry.

    Mitt Romney is not an egocentric American that s running for President just to “be” President. He doesn’t need the money or the lack of privacy, etc. that comes with the job. The stress on his family will be great, etc. why is he doing this? I think it is because he wants “to give back” to the American people and this country, and he is more motivated now then anytime in the past.

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