Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Creepy" is right

James Taranto in yesterday's Best of the Web Today highlighted a story from the New York Post that featured a grilling of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by Senator Barbara Boxer of California:
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.


bradley13 said...

While I normally agree with your views, I think you are missing the point here.

There is an old definition of war as "old men sending young men to die". As Hermann Goehring noted, the leaders of a country can always get the populace to follow them to war. The leaders might be somewhat restrained if they actually knew anyone amongst the soldiers.

The point here is, quite simple: How much more callous will the leaders be, if they don't even know the people theya re sending to die?

It is a simple fact that no one in George Bush's inner circle has ever served, nor have any of their immediate relatives. To them, the "ultimate price" is something paid by anonymous, unimportant people.

Steve Erbach said...


Your point seems to be that without children actively involved at the front lines of the war, no leader can be trusted to make life and death decisions about that war. I may be hyperbolizing a bit, but I think I've got the gist, yes?

What you seem to be saying is that a President like Lincoln, who had a son in the Army during the Civil War, would have sent more troops to be killed if his son Robert wasn't involved, is that right?

Franklin Roosevelt would have sent far more Americans to fight in Europe and Japan if his own four sons had not served in the Armed Forces, is that right?

Your logic doesn't hold water, son. Besides, you're asking me to prove a negative. Thanks, but no thanks.

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank