The argument — and my generosity in using that word is nothing short of breathtaking — that a woman can’t lawfully serve as President of the United States has been floating around teh intartoobz for years, at least since a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign became a serious possibility. The argument is back in the forefront recently thanks in large part to an editorial in the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor authored by some quasi-sentient fool by the name of Dick Marple. For reasons I can’t begin to understand, the editorial is all over the dubya dubya dubya.
The argument rests on Article II of the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 leads off with:
The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years . . . .
Further on in Section 1 we find:
The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation . . . .
Section 2, which spells out the president’s authority, says in part:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States . . .
And in Section 3:
He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.
“Just look at that language,” the argument goes. “There’s cockmeat all over it!” All those hes, hims and his, coupled with the absence of any references to wimmins, necessarily means that wimmins are excluded from the presidency.
Let’s euthanize this arthritic, toothless, dyspeptic, three-legged, 25-year-old cat before it suffers any further, shall we?
We could easily point out the ten or so times the original version of Article II and the Twelfth Amendment refer to the president with the gender neutral term “person,” but that probably wouldn’t satisfy the argument’s proponents all by itself. Let’s begin by noting that Article II, Section 1 expressly lays out all factors that disqualify one from serving as president:
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.
That’s it, folks. That’s the be-all and end-all of the disqualifiers, and neither absence of a massive tree trunk of a Johnson nor presence of a cooter is among them. In the timeless words of Pliny the Elder, “Expressio unius exclusio alterius est, bitch.”
Okay, but what about all those male-only references? Well, that’s just it; they aren’t male-only references.
American lexicographer and all-around sanctimonious prig Noah Webster is something of a hero among the contemporary “strict constructionist”/”original intent”/”America was founded as a Christian Nation” crowd. According to those folks, Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is the definitive source for finding out what words meant at the time of America’s inception. Webster notes in his dictionary that:
He, when a substitute for man in its general sense, expressing mankind, is of common gender, representing, like its antecedent, the whole human race.
That, coupled with the many constitutional references to the president as person — which per Webster “is applied alike to a man, woman or child” — demonstrates that eligibility for the office of president in no way depends upon what you are or are not packin’ in your underwear.
Are there plenty of good reasons not to want a Hillary Clinton presidency? You betcha. Does the fact that she has a hoo-ha instead of a weiner legally disqualify her from holding the office? No.