Barbara Boxer has behaved despicably. During testimony by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she suggested that Secretary Rice can't understand the cost of war because she has no children:
"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young," Boxer said. "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families."
There is a sense in which I think it helps to be a woman to understand how hostile this question is. The Reddess was apoplectic over it. "You wouldn't know because I have kids and you don't" is a putdown among women that is regarded as uniquely hurtful.
Beyond that,what is Sen. Boxer's point anyway? Is it that Condoleeza Rice does not care about casualties because they won't include her direct descendants? Is it that she can't understand the value of human life because she is not married and has no children?
Perhaps she was trying to emphasize that those who decide on war are making decisions about other people's lives, but that is both trite and inconclusive. There is no choice in Iraq which will result in no one dying and the idea that Secretary Rice does not understand the stakes because she doesn't have a child at risk is silly. One could just as easily argue that, if a President or Secretary of State did have a child in the military, his or her judgment would be impaired by a desire to preserve the life of a loved one as opposed to making a decison that is in the best interests of the nation.
Sen. Boxer's comments are an evasion of the real issues surrounding Iraq policy. Too often, rather than engage those with whom we disagree we impugn their motives or intelligence or compassion. We just can't fathom that intelligent people acting in good faith and who are just as moral and caring as we are might come to a different conclusion about important questions.