Ed Driscoll

The Boxer Rebellion

Newsbusters quotes Barbara Boxer’s exchange with Condi Rice yesterday:

Sen. Barbara Boxer took an unseemly jab at Condi Rice yesterday.

Of all the members of the Senate, the one you might expect to be least likely to call attention to a woman’s single, childless status for purposes of scoring political points would be Boxer. And yet it was the oh-so-broadminded senator from the Bay Area who did just that when Condi Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday to defend President Bush’s newly-announced Iraq plans.

In a segment narrated by ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, today’s Good Morning America highlighted Boxer’s questionable comment, running a good-sized clip of the exchange.

Rice: “I can never do anything to replace any of the lost men and women in uniform, or the diplomats, some of whom . . . ”

An interrupting Boxer: “Madame Secretary, please, I know you feel terrible about it; that’s not the point. I was making the point about who pays the price for your decisions. Now the issue is who pays the price? Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand, with an immediate family.”

Whoah! Tapper noted that the exchange “seemed to many people to get a bit personal” a view echoed by the “Tough Words” of the screen graphic.

It’s astounding that someone like Boxer, who has long championed sexual freedoms, should attempt to smear Rice as being somehow inferior because she made a career choice–as many driven professionals have–not to have children. Boxer’s early career was, for a time, in Marin county, a stone’s throw from San Francisco. And as James Taranto reported in 2005:

“San Francisco has the smallest share of small-fry of any major U.S. city,” the Associated Press reports. “Just 14.5 percent of the city’s population is 18 and under.” The AP dispatch attributes the small number of children to high housing costs and Frisco’s high prevalence of nonprocreative sexual orientations. Not mentioned is the Roe effect.

This is a trend in many very liberal enclaves, including much of Europe, as Mark Steyn has noted numerous times (not the least of which was America Alone) including this article, also linked to, here:

When I’ve mentioned the birth dearth on previous occasions, pro-abortion correspondents have insisted it’s due to other factors – the generally declining fertility rates that affect all materially prosperous societies, or the high taxes that make large families prohibitively expensive in materially prosperous societies. But this is a bit like arguing over which came first, the chicken or the egg – or, in this case, which came first, the lack of eggs or the scraggy old chicken-necked women desperate for one designer baby at the age of 48. How much of Europe’s fertility woes derive from abortion is debatable. But what should be obvious is that the way the abortion issue is framed – as a Blairite issue of personal choice – is itself symptomatic of the broader crisis of the dying West.

Since 1945, a multiplicity of government interventions – state pensions, subsidised higher education, higher taxes to pay for everything – has so ruptured traditional patterns of inter-generational solidarity that in Europe a child is now an optional lifestyle accessory. By 2050, Estonia’s population will have fallen by 52 per cent, Bulgaria’s by 36 per cent, Italy’s by 22 per cent. The hyper-rationalism of post-Christian Europe turns out to be wholly irrational: what’s the point of creating a secular utopia if it’s only for one generation?

Meanwhile, Newsbusters wonders when AP went Victorian:

The Associated Press used this phrase to describe Boxer’s slap: “Even Rice’s status as a single woman was fair game.” Single woman? In an age in which 30% of all children, and over 70% of black children, are born to single women, how oddly Victorian of the AP. Was this just a slip, or was AP reluctant to use the expression “Rice’s status as a childless woman” because that would have cast Boxer in an even crueler light?

I’ve commented on the media as “the Victorian Gentleman“, but that wasn’t at all what I was referring to, of course.

(Video of Boxer’s exchange, and Condi’s Spock-like raised eyebrow response, here.)

Update: Greg Tinti explores the Chickenhawk-angle in the Boxer attack:

I think it’s fairly clear that Boxer was just trying to tweak the tired liberal meme that argues that people without military service (“Faux Klingons”) aren’t qualified to make decisions concerning the military into a new meme that claims that people who don’t have family members serving in Iraq aren’t qualified to argue in favor of an escalation of the war. Of course, it’s an incredibly stupid argument on its face since following Boxer’s logic to it’s inevitable conclusion would preclude her and many other members of Congress from making decisions about war and, really, anything else with which they don’t have personal experience with or will be personally effected by.

For example, since Boxer does not live in the areas of the country hit by Hurricane Katrina and doesn’t have any family members that were impacted by the Hurricane (I don’t know if that’s true, but for the sake of this argument, let’s pretend it is), she is completely unqualified to make any decisions about how to help solve the problems effecting thee Gulf Coast.

So, in other words, too many people are focusing on the wrong thing. It’s much more important, I think, to focus on the absurdity of Boxer’s argument rather than trying to hopelessly prove that she intended to insult Condi personally, which, again, I don’t believe she did.

More here.

Update: Tony Snow weighs in: