The Mommy Party
At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, Sen. Barbara Boxer quizzed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Iraq strategy. The New York Post is rightly appalled at what Boxer had to say:"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."
Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family." . . .
The junior senator from California apparently believes that an accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is a single, childless woman.
It's hard to imagine the firestorm that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate.
Part of the reason this is shocking, of course, is because it breaches feminist etiquette. If Boxer had said this to a male official who had no children, it wouldn't have carried quite the same sting--though it would still be creepy.
We've remarked frequently upon the tendency of war opponents to infantilize American servicemen--by demanding, for example, to know why President Bush hasn't "sent" his daughters to fight in Iraq, as if he had the power as their father to order them to enlist.
In truth, members of the military are adults who have made an adult commitment. They deserve to be respected for their maturity, not patronized as victims. It dishonors them to use their sacrifice as a political cudgel.
This "infantilization" of military volunteers also paves the way to re-establishing the draft. If opponents of the war can only victimize our servicemen and women enough by making it appear completely unfair that their volunteer service can lead them to death in Iraq, then the next step is to make military service "fair" again.