WHEN ROMNEY MADE HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE JOKE, I wasn’t near the computer, but tweeted:

Ann Althouse has more detailed thoughts along the same lines.

Romney is saying — in so many words — I’m more truly and fundamentally American than Barack Obama. And the implication is: I want you to think about the ways that Obama hasn’t fully embraced American values of freedom, capitalism, etc. etc.

Of course, you don’t have to be born in America to have those values. I imagine Ted Cruz has those values, and he was born in Canada. He might make a great Senator from Texas soon, but he can never be President. We don’t need to see his birth certificate, because it’s no secret. He’s not qualified to be President, and it’s no disparagement of him to say that. But notably — and pay attention now, because this should help with understanding Romney’s joke — no one running against Cruz would make a joke about his being born outside of the United States. Romney’s (implicit) joke about Obama works not because of where he was actually born, but because of much more substantive ideas about commitment to foundational American values.

Exactly. With the added benefit that the press would miss the point and thus, in its outrage, spread the idea further than Romney could on his own.

The audience got it, though. As Jan Crawford reported: “At Romney event, two reactions to his birth certificate joke: reporters gasped–and a crowd of thousands laughed and cheered.”

UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails: “Why does Ann Althouse assume Ted Cruz is not eligible to be President just because he was born in Calgary? Both of his parents were American at the time of his birth, and his mother was American by birth.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Althouse updates her post: “I didn’t mean to be the first Ted Cruz birther! I agree that if both your parents are American citizens and you are therefore an American citizen at birth, that’s good enough for the constitutional requirement.”

MORE: Frank J. is on a roll:

And reader Bobby Franklin writes: “Romney owes Obama rent for living in his head. It appears we may have underestimated ole Mitt. He is simply toying with Obama, Democrats, and the media – and they don’t even know it.”

I believe he has adopted the picador strategy. Prof. Stephen Clark agrees: “Glad to see you and Althouse make these points. This is your picador strategy at work again. The reaction from the press and, more importantly, from the White House was clearly foreseen. This is ruthless, interesting, and entertaining. I cannot imagine John McCain, or any similar politician, doing this even now.”

STILL MORE: Eugene Volokh emails: “Glenn: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-local-news/texplainer/texplainer-could-canadian-born-ted-cruz-be-preside/ reports that Ted Cruz’s father was not a U.S. citizen when Ted was born, though I think that doesn’t change his eligibility: Under the law at the time of his birth, all it took was one citizen parent for the child to be a citizen, so long as the parent had lived long enough in the U.S. (which Ted’s mother had).”