BOXER'S LOW BLOW
January 12, 2007 -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, an appalling scold from California, wasted no time yesterday in dragging the debate over Iraq about as low as it can go - attacking Secre tary of State Condoleezza Rice for being a childless woman.
Boxer was wholly in character for her party - New York's own two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, were predictably opportunistic - but the Golden State lawmaker earned special attention for the tasteless jibes she aimed at Rice.
Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.
"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."
We scarcely know where to begin.
The junior senator from California ap parently believes that an accom plished, 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. (Surely the Associated Press would have put the observation a bit higher than the 18th paragraph of a routine dispatch from Washington.)
But put that aside.
The vapidity - the sheer mindlessness - of Sen. Boxer's assertion makes it clear that the next two years are going to be a time of bitterness and rancor, marked by pettiness of spirit and political self-indulgence of a sort not seen in America for a very long time.
In contrast to Boxer, Sen. Clinton seemed almost statesmanlike - until one considers that she was undercutting the president of the United States in time of war: "The president simply has not gotten the message sent loudly and clearly by the American people, that we desperately need a new course."
Schumer, meanwhile, dismissed the president's speech as "a new surge without a new strategy."
Frankly, we're not surprised by Hillary Clinton's rush to judgment. With both eyes firmly set on 2008, her Iraq position flits like a tumbleweed in the political wind. Who knows where she'll wind up?
Heck, she admitted as much by citing November's midterm elections to justify her newfound opposition to the war. (And who needs a commander-in-chief who tailors war-fighting strategy to public opinion?)
Clinton would do well to consider the words of GOP Sen. John McCain, another White House hopeful, who frankly admits that his strong support for a troop surge in Iraq has cost him votes. (Some Democrats, in fact, already are calling this "McCain's surge.")
Said McCain: "I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war."
As for Schumer, we're profoundly disappointed by his remarks.
While he's always been a fiercely parti san Democrat (nothing to be ash amed of), time was when Schumer seemed to understand the existential threat posed by Islamic extremism.
Now he's been elevated to a top position in his party's Senate leadership - and he has bigger fish to fry.
Like electing Democrats.
And so, like Boxer, he cheers on Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and John Edwards - with Clinton, presidential aspirants - as they trash Bush's plan.
To the extent that such behavior encourages America's enemies - and of course it does - he, like they, stands to have innocent blood on his hands.
Yes, the party's bloggers will be happy.
So will al Qaeda.
True enough, Democrats don't hold a monopoly on appalling behavior.
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican presidential candidate and favorite of some conservatives, has joined with Democrats in opposition to the troop surge - and he's not alone.
The president deserves better.
Indeed, the least these critics can do is suggest an alternative that leads to success in Iraq rather than simply criticize.
Or suggest that America simply wave the white flag.
As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said: "Now that the president has outlined a change in strategy, we should give his proposals an opportunity to work." Instead, Kyl rightly noted, "some declared the president's proposals unworkable even before they were announced."
No such nay-saying, however, was to be heard from two Capitol Hill stalwarts: McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut.
"I applaud the president for rejecting the fatalism of failure and pursuing a new course to achieve success in Iraq," said Lieberman, who alone in his party genuinely comprehends what a U.S. defeat in Iraq would mean.
As for McCain, his support is tempered by the fact that he argued correctly, from the start, that the war was being fought with too few troops. Had the administration listened four years ago, this tactical shift might not be necessary now.
It would take a truly hard heart not to be touched, deeply, by the sacrifices made by the young men and women now wearing their country's uniform.
And one can only imagine the pain felt by the families of those killed and cruelly wounded in service to America. Just as it was hard to imagine the agony of the loved ones left behind on 9/11.
But even to suggest that Condoleezza Rice is not fit to serve her country because she is childless is beyond bizarre.
It is perverse.
Sen. Boxer needs to apologize.
And she needs to do it today.
(cj says: She can blow me while she's at it)