Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The catfight

I've been reluctant to post about the recent remarks of Barbara Boxer because of a) the trashing I have taken in other forums and b) questions in my own mind as to why the debate ever got this silly.

Not familiar with the issue? Well hopefully readers from overeas have better things to think about and US readers have probably formed an opinion. For those of you still here , this is what happened:

Boxer, during her questioning of Rice, said she wanted to focus attention on the human consequences of the decision.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young," to serve, Boxer told Rice. "You're not going to pay a price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.''

Boxer was denounced Friday on the New York Post editorial page, which called the comments "a low blow." The exchange generated a firestorm among conservative bloggers and cable news commentators.

"I think it was more than cheap -- it was degrading," Fox News commentator Karen Hanretty said in an interview. "There's nothing more vicious than feminine politics, and Boxer proved herself a shrill harpy.''

White House spokesman Tony Snow -- a former Fox commentator -- called the comments "outrageous" and opined that Boxer had made "a great leap backward for feminism.''

Fox News ran headlines all day Friday on the topic, such as, "Will Boxer Apologize?'' and "Boxer Slimes Rice,'' and some conservative critics charged that Boxer inappropriately raised questions about Rice's personal life.

Now what the current news seems to be ignoring is that there is no love lost between these two women. Hearken back to 2005:

Condoleezza Rice defended the war in Iraq during her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, sparring with one Democrat who suggested her loyalty to President Bush and support for the conflict "overwhelmed your respect for the truth."

Rice bristled at the comment by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. "I have to say that I have never, ever, lost respect for the truth in the service of anything," she said. Rice, who has been Bush's national security adviser for the past four years, faced more than nine hours of questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on her nomination to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state.

Boxer was particularly aggressive, pointing out what she said were inconsistencies in Rice's statements about the imminent threat of nuclear weapons in Iraq.

"This is a pattern here of what I see from you," Boxer said. "It's very troubling. ... It's hard for me to let go of this war because people are still dying."

She said Rice has not acknowledged those deaths, has not laid out an exit strategy for Iraq and has been unwilling to admit mistakes -- including going to war over weapons of mass destruction found later not to exist. (WMD report)

"If you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you will rethink it," Boxer said.

"Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like," Rice replied. "But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity."


First it proves what I have always known about women. Once they have a grudge they never , ever, give it up. Even against fellow women. In fact, women in my observation, seem to be hardest on other women they do not agree with.

Second, this particular line of attack is quite unecessary. It simply proves to me that Barbara Boxer is a c**t and a lousy Senator. Had she had any smarts at all and even a smidgen of understanding on what really appeals to people she could have attacked Rice on more factual groounds. Hating Bush still does not provide acceptable grounds for attacking him through his sycophants servants. You would think after so many years in the Senate-which also proves how really stupid the people of California are-would have taught the good Ms Boxer that. Guess not.

She could have stuck to the facts:

1- Condi Rice is not a particularly good Secretary of State. Her marital status has nothing to do with that whatsover. She simply has not been as diplomatic as she could be, as independent as she should be, and in the end misunderstands the people that work for her. As recently as 6 months ago critics noticed:

A senior Republican expressed unhappiness at the way that she was snubbed recently by Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister. “Henry Kissinger would never have been turned away from any capital,” he told The Times.

Richard Armitage, who was deputy to her predecessor, Colin Powell, has publicly attacked her for ignoring opportunities to negotiate with Syria. “We get a little lazy, I think, when we spend all our time as diplomats talking to our friends and not to our enemies,” he said.

Richard Armitage, by the way is the guy who should have been the Secretary of State, but at least he had the balls to to say no after the way Colin Powell was treated by the "bonehead educator in chief".

Thomas P.M. Barnett sums up Rice's position quite well:

No big surprise there. Real clearing is Cheney's, with Rummy as surrogate.

Missing in the analysis so far: with caretaker in Pentagon, Baker now takes over de facto control of the war, as almost his own national security adviser, SECDEF AND SECSTATE.

No big whup for Gates. He knew that coming in. Quiet Hadley will do as told, as will Rice, but in reality, Rice's been replaced without leaving office. Imagine being SECSTATE and kicked off the one foreign policy issue that defines the administration.

Yes, yes, expect many protestations to the contrary and watch Baker go out of his way, using the study group as cover, not to upstage her.

But make no mistake, we now have caretakers (and not the real players) in both the Building and Foggy Bottom.

2- The Democrats of today are analogous to the golfer who hits a good drive then pisses it away inside the 150 yard marker. You drive for show, but you play the short game for dough and the Dems will be lucky to make the cut.

Consider: Instead of passing resolutions or whining again and again about the "surge" something that they cannot stop before fall of 2007, they could be VERY effectively attacking the President on his flanks. If the Democrats had half an inkling about how to get real things accomplished they would be sitting and waiting for him to submit his military budget. And then working for some real goals:

a) A pay raise of any significance. Bush will not propose one. The Dems could make real money by demanding a pay raise of at LEAST 5%.

b) Proposals of real significance to give a lot more extra pay to those serving in combat zones. The Democrats have proposals on the table to fix this. George W. Bush doesn't. Instead he has let "Dr Scrooge" chip away at benefits that have been earned.

c) An improved GI Bill. Sen James Webb has proposed in legislation a REAL GI bill for servicement who have to serve during this period of war. I am suprised there has not been more attention paid to it.

d) Proposals to remove stupid laws like prohibitions against concurrent receipt and reforming the USFSPA.

My point is, since the Bush budget will have none of these things, the Democrats can use that callous disregard of serving miltary members sacrifice to their advantage. Because with the "surge" Bush is asking troops to sacrifice. However his administration is loath to pay for that sacrifice. That too, is typical of his record, talk a good game- but screw the troops at the drive through when he submits his budget.

It would be something with meat that the Democrats could sink their teeth into and it would highlight Bush's hypocrisy. Certainly it would do so better than symbolic resolutions passed in Congress that have no weight. Done visibly and with great fanfare it would create loads of good sound bites and expose the President as a man who talks a good game but does not deliver when it counts. It would also buy time for the Democrats as the Iraqi government doesn't deliver(s) on its promises, and that too could be capitalized on. Certainly that would be better than worrying about cutting off funding for the war, which is political suicide.

That's the great thing about Democrats however, give them a chance, they will screw something away. Which explains why Boxer is a Senator in the first place.


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