Much Ado about Condi
I heard low rumblings last week about an exchange between U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which Boxer made reference to the fact that neither she nor Rice pays a “personal price” in the Iraq war because they don’t have children there. Boxer’s children, she said, are too old to serve and her grandchild is too young; Rice has no children. As quoted in a CNN transcript of a discusson of the remarks, exactly what Boxer said to Rice is this:
Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price?
It was fairly typical Boxer rhetoric; she is known for personalizing issues in a way that she thinks favors her point of view. What I didn’t realize is that her fairly innocuous statement elicited gasps of horror from the right. My old friend, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, clued me in with today’s column:
That earned the senator a spanking from Fox News (“a shocking Democratic attack”), Rush Limbaugh (“a rich white chick . . . trying to lynch an African-American woman”), and presidential spokesman Tony Snow (“outrageous . . . great leap backward for feminism”).
The objection, evidently, is that it was unfair for Boxer to claim Rice’s childlessness disqualifies her from making wartime policy. Overreaction? You bet. If Boxer’s remarks denigrated single women with no children, they also denigrated women like herself who merely have no children of appropriate age for military service. But conservatives see things differently now that Democrats are in charge of the Congress. Now, the sky is falling every time a liberal in power opens her or his mouth.
The bigger story, as I see it, is the way Boxer’s premise—that only those in the military and their families are capable of making good decisions about war—could quite easily be used against her. Military personnel and military families are likely to view the Iraq war—going there in the first place, the results so far, and the chances for success— more favorably than the average American.
If the right-wing bloviators are smart, and that’s a big “if,” they’ll focus on that instead of throwing a tantrum about a meaningless comment from a grandstanding politician.