Senator Barbara Boxer has mastered the art of rudeness much better than she has cultivated wisdom on weighty matters of state.
When questioning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the president's Iraq war policy, Boxer uttered a series of bizarre rhetorical questions. They were obviously intended to discredit Rice, not based on her support of the president's presumably dubious war strategy, but because she doesn't have children, which disqualifies her from participating in a decision that could affect people's children.
Referring to war, Boxer said, "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."
Despite her professional and personal accomplishments, Rice is frequently a target for liberals, who apparently find Rice's Republican Party membership a particular betrayal, given her gender and race, which to liberals mean unquestioned allegiance to liberalism.
The liberal establishment demands that blacks and women and especially black women toe the liberal line, and when they deviate, they deserve the establishment's collective wrath. Indeed, such is the magnitude of their infidelity that they forfeit any expectation of civility from the left.
We saw this on graphic display when liberal cartoonists savaged Rice in racially pointed cartoons during her confirmation hearings without so much as a whimper of disapproval from self-styled racially sensitive liberals.
At the hearings -- as I chronicle in my book -- Senator Boxer exhibited a viciously insulting tone toward Rice, telling her, "I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Democrats didn't condemn Boxer -- even though she compounded the egregiousness of her baseless accusation by boastfully showcasing it in an exploitive fundraising e-mail she sent for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Boxer's credentials for rudeness thus being established, how should we evaluate the reasonableness of her implied argument that Rice's opinion is worthless because she has no children who could be affected by it?
This line of reasoning, of course, is nothing new for liberals. I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard one of them say that those who didn't serve have no moral right to opine on war issues. This "chicken-hawk" argument is so childishly misguided you would think liberals, who consider themselves superior logicians and cerebral sophisticates, would be too embarrassed to make it.
The question is not who is qualified to opine, but whether an opinion has merit, irrespective of the characteristics of its proponents or opponents. Under liberal logic, the rich-from-birth Ted Kennedy is disqualified from empathizing with and advocating for the poor. And, the Framers should have limited the franchise in presidential elections to military personnel and their parents, and maybe their grandparents, but not aunts, uncles, brother, sisters or cousins.
Interestingly, Boxer pretended she had no standing to opine either, since her children are too old and her grandchildren too young to serve. But that didn't stop her from making clear her view that the war is not worth American lives, because her opinion is sanctified by its liberalism. Since she's against the war, the ending of which would supposedly end the risk to American lives, her opinion is legitimate.
What this really boils down to is the antiwar left's intolerance for dissenting opinions and their propensity to make decisions on an emotional, rather than logical basis. If you don't agree with them, you either aren't listening -- another charge Boxer leveled at Rice -- or you don't have the right to opine. But Boxer's logic is self-defeating: If your personal circumstances disqualify you from opining, they do so regardless of the nature of your opinion.
Further, Boxer's underlying assumption is that the Iraq war is not worth the risk of American lives. While that is something about which reasonable people can disagree, we can't ever get to that point in the discussion if one side intimidates the other into silence.
It is conceivable that the implementation of Boxer's antiwar opinion could put more American lives -- military and civilian -- at risk in the long run, by weakening the United States emboldening terrorists and contributing to the conversion of Iraq into a launching pad for global terrorism. Or do I have enough of a stake in America to entitle me to such an audacious opinion?
Many on the antiwar left are still oblivious to the global nature of the war and that Iraq's destiny is central to it. They seem to believe we can flip a switch and end this war -- by a solitary executive order.
But disregard my opinion on that, too, since I've never been the commander in chief.