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January 12, 2007

Wombs Have Nothing To Do With It

Karen Tumulty should dispense with the faux-outrage over the unremarkable exchange between Barbara Boxer and Condoleeza Rice where Boxer said, "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family." Tumulty titles her post "Womb Wars" and wonders if Boxer wasn't insinuating that Rice's lack of progeny rendered her incapable of carrying out her job. Not quite. Instead, Boxer's comment is fits firmly within the rich history of attacks levied on the Bush administration and Congress for pursuing wars of choice despite lacking personal experience in combat or immediate family members exposed to its ravages. It's a variant of the "chickenhawk" charge, not chauvinism.

January 12, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

The press' propensity to turn any dispute between to female professionals into a "catfight" is really obscene.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jan 12, 2007 2:52:03 PM

And the New York Post is treating this as a major story. In fairness to Rice, members of her extended family will be at risk. Fox News reporters. As for genuine woman-on-woman sexism, check this out this bit from Noonan:

"When Nancy Pelosi showed up at the White House Wednesday to talk with the president it was obvious she'd spent a lot of time thinking about . . . what to wear. She wrapped herself in a rich red shawl. Dick Morris said it looked like a straitjacket. I thought she looked like a particularly colorful mummy. She complained that the president had not asked for her input as he put together his plan. He should have. But what would she have brought to the table if she'd been asked to it? It is still--still!--unclear."

Posted by: david mizner | Jan 12, 2007 2:58:44 PM

It isn't just the New York Post though - a few days ago we had the "catfight" story at the Washington Post. The traditional media narrative seems to be to denigrate the women in leadership positions of the Democratic Party.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Jan 12, 2007 3:21:58 PM

Isn't Condi Rice the epitomy of feminism? Not married, high powered career gal that she is. Yet Boxer is going to tell Condi Rice that her opinions and judgements are invalid or don't matter cuz Miss Rice has lived an ideal feminist life, she put career before family.

Sounds like the logic that only veterens can comment on anything military or war.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 12, 2007 3:58:39 PM

After many years of the GOP rabid dogs attacking Dems as 'terrorists', 'traitors', ''girly men', etc., I'm fully in favor of returning the favors, twice over, and laughing hysterically at them when they whine. Ridicule is the best medicine for hypocrites. Lather and repeat as necessary.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jan 12, 2007 4:33:34 PM

I like John Cole's take.

Because, apparently, when you point out that someone is not going to pay a personal price or have to personally sacrifice, it is THE SAME DAMNED THING as telling them they are unqualified to make a decision. Predictably, the “Look, a rabbit” wing of the blogosphere is all over this. Better to pay attention to this newly manufactured insult than the fact that Bush is throwing more troops into an unwinnable mess and looks to be agitating a larger regional war against Syria and Iran.

But since the wingnuts think they have a winner here, let’s help them out. If you read the transcript, Boxer actually said SHE would not pay a price, either. In other words, she attacked not only Rice, but she attacked herself.

I think that is proof positive that Sen. Boxer is sexist.

I'm not normally very succinct, but it seems simple to me: anyone who genuinely doesn't understand the difference between "we have no skin in the game" and "you have no right to opine" is a moron.

Posted by: Cyrus | Jan 12, 2007 4:58:39 PM

Actually, Boxer's comment was that neither Rice nor Boxer, the latter having no children or grandchildren of fighting age, will pay the price.

"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."

I'm not sure this even counts as a chickenhawk argument.

Posted by: Consumatopia | Jan 12, 2007 5:04:00 PM

What does this have to do with whether Condoleeza Rice has children? I mean I guess it's because of the "immediate" family, but I know my stepmother was more than a little on edge the entire time her nephew was in Iraq. I don't think Boxer's point was that people without kids eligible for combat get to have an opinion but rather that it gets rather old to hear "We must do thus and such" when the "we" includes other people's kids, spouses, cousins, nieces and nephews but rarely a blood relative of the person arguing for the action.

Case in point, Bush can say "we must stay the course," but he's not putting his own ass on the line, his kids haven't signed up and his nieces and nephews aren't headed into combat. Hell, the people arguing what "we" must do rarely even want to foot the bill by ponying up some taxes.

Posted by: Magenta | Jan 12, 2007 5:18:49 PM

Ridicule is the best medicine for hypocrites.

A good prescription for being hypocrites, in any case.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jan 12, 2007 5:19:54 PM

in my opinion, it was a cruel comment and a cheap shot.
it only contributes to polarizing things further.
i am no fan of condoleeza rice, but a comment like that is mean-spirited and hurtful.
...it will only serve to exacerbate and antagonize.
.....sometimes we say things that appear to be harmless statements, but their real intent is cruel and surgical...just like the comment kerry made about cheney's daughter.
shame on barbara boxer for taking the first cheap shots in the hearings.what comes around goes around.
.....these cheap shots accomplish nothing good.

Posted by: jacqueline | Jan 12, 2007 5:32:18 PM

"anyone who genuinely doesn't understand the difference between "we have no skin in the game" and "you have no right to opine" is a moron."

OK professor, what was Boxer's point? Why bring up that Rice has no immediate family in Iraq?

What is the end point of 'we have no skin in the game'?

Other than 'your judgement and opinion is not as valuable as someone who does have family there'. Regardless of one's education or knowledge in foreign affairs.

You're an idiot.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 12, 2007 6:10:19 PM

What is the end point of 'we have no skin in the game'?

Other than 'your judgement and opinion is not as valuable as someone who does have family there'.

Here's a hint--eliminate the the first letter of your paraphrase.

Posted by: Consumatopia | Jan 12, 2007 7:06:25 PM

Maybe Boxer isn't qualified to speak, but Rice has forgotten more about world history and world affairs than Boxer will ever know.

Using your logic, the only people who's opinion would really matter are those who are in uniform. After all, they are the ones dying. And in our all volunteer military, I am pretty sure that most military people want to stay till the mission is complete(Iraq is stable and can protect itself), and do whatever we need to do to win.

Also, according to your logic, a single woman shouldn't be in a position of power. As Condi said earlier today, "I thought single women had come farther than that".

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 12, 2007 7:46:35 PM

Siblings count as "immediate family." Does Secretary Rice have any brothers or sisters in harm's way?

Me neither.

Posted by: Grumpy | Jan 12, 2007 8:23:25 PM

Did Boxer say that anyone was unqualified to speak?

Also, according to your logic

You don't seem capable of doing your own logic, so you should probably worry more about that than other people's.

Posted by: Consumatopia | Jan 12, 2007 8:56:14 PM

consuma,

You said above that Rice's opinion is not as important as someone who has family in Iraq.

I guess you can't follow your own logic. If a serviceman's family member's opinion is more important than someone without family in Iraq, then the most important opinion should be from the serviceman himself. And the servicemen in our all volunteer military overwelmingly support the mission.

Liberals just don't have the capacity to defend our country, as exampled above. Any moron who thinks military families should be steering policy during war doesn't have a grip on reality.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 12, 2007 9:23:17 PM

Could I offer an alternate thought line to this pile of steaming stuff that we have going here?
Is it just possible that Sen. Boxer was implying that since they are both of an age where they have no immediate family in harm's way that they may 'think' about the issue differently than someone who does. That the fact that they have no family members in the battle that their 'attitude' and not their qualifications are at question here.
When I had family members in the assorted war zones, I looked at the situations from a different angle. When they were home safe, I calmed down.
Is it possible that Sen. Boxer was advising Sec. Rice that though she may be looking at the situation from a dispassionate, intellectual angle, it is unrealistic to expect the families of active duty soldiers to do the same and that just may impact on the real world decisions that are made in the glorified Halls of Washington?

Posted by: Hawise | Jan 12, 2007 10:25:32 PM

"Is it possible that Sen. Boxer was advising Sec. Rice that though she may be looking at the situation from a dispassionate, intellectual angle, it is unrealistic to expect the families of active duty soldiers to do the same and that just may impact on the real world decisions that are made in the glorified Halls of Washington?"

Are you suggesting we consider how a random soldier's family is going to take his death when making foreign policy decisions? Is that how you think a prudent gov't should run a war? Should we consider how a particular special ops soldier's wife is going to take his death when deciding whether or not to conduct every covert mission?

Of course the number of US soldiers killed, wounded, civilians killed, infrastructure destroyed, etc. should be considered when making military decisions. But how a mother is going to feel about a dead son?

Do you think we would have won WWII if we had let the servicemen's mothers decide when we should quit? Or the Revoluionary War?

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jan 12, 2007 10:50:47 PM

No, I am saying that one serviceman has dozens of voting adults who care about him and will look into how he is treated and whether or not they support the use the government has for his services. If they feel that the sacrifice that their loved one is making is being taken for granted by the powers that be, then the voting members of those families will make their feelings known in the only way they have possible in a democracy. Oh yeah, they already did.

Those families see and experience the real costs of the service of their sons and daughters, wives and husbands etc... They care for their broken bodies and spirits when they come home, and they celebrate when they come back whole and healthy. They are a vital part of the sacrifice that servicemen and women make and their experiences help to decide whether a new generation will be willing to volunteer.

And the world won WWII because servicemen's mothers, like my grandmothers and those in a dozen other countries, raised men who knew the price they could pay, were willing to pay it and were also willing to call crap when the leadership pulled it.

Posted by: Hawise | Jan 12, 2007 11:15:16 PM

Hawise,
Good luck getting a conservative to understand empathy.

Posted by: skewter | Jan 13, 2007 10:22:26 AM

and so it goes...
just watching the thread unfold, confirms the place where unkindnesses lead to.
the energy of something cruel or negative becomes like a chi ball that is passed from person to person...it grows larger and more amorphous as it circulates.
.....in hebrew, the term, lashen hara refers to verbal attacks, deliberate unkindnesses, slanders and tale bearing.
it is said in the Talmud, that the tongue can be used in such a dangerous way, that it must be kept behind two walls:the teeth and the mouth.
......an interesting parable: a man had commited the sin of lashen hora, hurting another person with words. when he went to the rabbi to ask how to make amends...the rabbi said, "cut a feather pillow, and let the feathers go in the wind. then try to catch all of them, and gather them back."
...the man said, "how can i do that, it is not possible."
....and the rabbi said, "that is true. the hurt and unkindnesses of our words fly out into the world, and there is no way to make amends or gather them back."
.....the sin of verbal unkindnesses in the jewish religion is considered greater than other forms of sin..as there is no way to repair the damage of words, once they are spoken.
...goodness and lack of goodness gather strength as they move through the universe. it is easy to see.
......

Posted by: jacqueline | Jan 13, 2007 12:09:39 PM

Do you think we would have won WWII if we had let the servicemen's mothers decide when we should quit? Or the Revoluionary War?

I know this wasn't addressed to me, but you know, I do think we would have won those wars in the same circumstances. People are willing to sacrifice, even sacrifice their children's lives, for things that are worthwhile.

Just because so many conservatives are selfish pricks who wouldn't risk so much as a pinky in a good cause doesn't mean eveyone is that way.

Posted by: Magenta | Jan 13, 2007 12:21:22 PM

magenta....
whatever beliefs we may personally hold about this war,
there are many young conservative soldiers in iraq who are risking much more than pinkys today, for a cause they personally consider worth fighting for.

Posted by: jacqueline | Jan 13, 2007 12:42:43 PM

Conservative or liberal, war impacts across the field and it is a vain and selfish politician that doesn't realize that the ripple effect of their decisions can create a mighty wave. Many of the decisions that the current administration has made are starting to form such a wave, and the people in charge had better wake up or they may find themselves without a boat to paddle to safety in.

Posted by: Hawise | Jan 13, 2007 12:57:35 PM

the most important opinion should be from the serviceman himself. And the servicemen in our all volunteer military overwelmingly support the mission.

Sadly, no.

"For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll...Only 35% of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42% said they disapprove.
Just as telling, in this year's poll only 41% of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place."

Posted by: ajay | Jan 15, 2007 12:50:29 PM

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