- By Carolyn O'HaraCarolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
While questioning Condoleezza Rice at yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer implied that Condi isn’t going to pay a personal price for sending more troops to Iraq because she is a single female:
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 it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.”
Not-so-subtle dig alert. According to Political Punch, Boxer’s office insists she was just trying to draw attention to the fact that few policymakers’ families are affected by the war in Iraq. But here’s my question: Would Sen. Boxer dare make this point to a single general without kids? Or another administration official, say, like Stephen Hadley (who has two teenage daughters) in a hearing? Aside from being in bad taste, it’s just egregiously petty politics. The insinuation here, whether intended by Sen. Boxer or not, is two-fold: 1) There must be something wrong with a woman who chooses not to have a family and 2) that such a decision brings into question the woman’s judgment.
There’s also some ugly foreshadowing here. Condi is going to increasingly face this question in the next few years if she has political ambitions. The fact that she isn’t married and has no children is a liability in American politics. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The second is Boxer’s insinuation that people without family members in the military may be less capable of critically judging a situation or more easily convinced to place troops in harm’s way. I’m no fan of the surge plan. But implying that because Condi doesn’t have a child of military age, she’s less qualified or incapable of comprehending the gravity of decisions is just hitting below the belt.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |