The Claireifyer

Almost everything you think you know is changing

Claire Dobie

Claire Dobie
Martinez, California, USA
April 26
freelance writer, editor, researcher, proofreader
I was a TV news anchor and reporter in three major markets and now focus on writing, editing, research and proofreading. See my crude but functional website at My favorite quote is Mark Twain's "The difference between a word and the exactly right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." With approximately 2,000 books in my garage library, ninety-nine percent are reference books because I am an admitted information junkie. I could not tell you the current hottest novel except "Fifty Shades of Gray" because my friends and daughter read it. Not really interested. Research--not S&M--is my heart. I've interviewed Ronald Reagan, Sen. Ted Kennedy, the Sr. President Bush, Governor Jerry Brown, and entertainers such as Patti LaBelle, Sister Sledge, David Brenner, and Melba Moore. Seizing the day, observing people, smiling at strangers (especially those with grumpy faces), and yielding to the guy in the car who's been trying to get into traffic for the past five minutes are my favorite things to do.


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APRIL 14, 2012 6:05PM

Oops! No One Can (Technically) Be President of the USA

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 The US Constitution: A nearly-flawless document

In terms of sentence structure, syntax and spelling, the Constitution of the United States is perhaps the most unblemished piece of writing in our nation’s history. I have found one exception.

The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has been amended seventeen times (for a total of 27 amendments) and its principles are applied in courts of law by judicial review.  (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

Just as a refresher, here are the opening lines of this great document:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That said, the founding fathers did make one slip in grammatical structure that, technically, translates to the prohibition of ANYONE becoming president.

That’s right. Here’s the proof. Read carefully.

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.

The operative clause is “at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution.” Its placement in the sentence, taken literally, means you would only be eligible if you met all the requirements at the time the Constitution was being written. That precludes a huge number of past and would-be presidents.

My rewrite is simple. Just eliminate “at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution.”  For enhanced eloquence, it might read as follows: “At the time of Adoption of this Constitution, we the undersigned decree that no person except a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States, shall be eligible for the Office of the President.”

So Mssrs. Romney, Gingrich, Paul , Palin and all other presidential wannabes, in a purely grammatical sense, you are all out of the race since you were not a citizen of the United States when the Constitution was formed. Sadly, this also applies to you, President Obama and all others before you, except good old George Washington.

The moral of this story: watch your language. One little word or phrase can change the meaning of everything, including your eligibility for office of the President. On the other hand, as per Thomas Jefferson, it is a "thankless job" anyway. He and I have never understood why anyone would apply for the job.





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[r] Claire, you are a hoot. Good one. How about "at the time of this Adoption of the Constitution and onward" or, as you said, put the bloody subordinate clause as a lead in? Those dangling modifiers sometimes geot away from the political elite, not as easily as ethics I would surmise. But I speak of times present not then.

You are clearly (clarely) living up to your claireifying persona. best, libby