"I thought it was OK to be single."
During Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Iraq war critic Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said, "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. And I just want to bring us back to that fact."
"I thought it was OK to not have children," said Rice later, "and I thought you could still make good decisions on behalf of the country if you were single and didn't have children."
Apparently the lack of a family member serving in the military disqualifies one from supporting the war. Let's see, 70 percent of the nation, at one time, supported the war. Did the 70 percent prepare to pay a "personal price" by having a family member or relative in the military? Over 90 percent of our citizens never served in the military, and of those who did, only a fraction saw combat. Does this foreclose them from supporting the war?
The new secretary of defense, Robert Gates, received overwhelming confirmation by the Senate to replace "war-monger" Rumsfeld. Gates, however, recently warned of a pending "calamity" in Iraq if our effort there fails. This only matters, according to Boxer, if you have a family member currently serving.
The CIA also reportedly predicted dire consequences of failing in Iraq. A CIA source, after the agency "war gamed" a defeat in Iraq, said, "When we did the simulation, the ramifications were enormous. . . . [Al Qaeda would say], 'God has given us a second victory over a superpower.' Imagine what defeat in Iraq will do. Al Qaeda picks new targets after it thinks it's won." Of course, this, too, becomes irrelevant unless one family member serves in the military.
President and Commander in Chief Abraham Lincoln had no child serving in the Civil War. President Harry Truman, who dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had a daughter, but she did not serve. President Bill Clinton sent troops to Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, but his daughter did not serve. President John Kennedy increased the number of advisers in Vietnam and supported that war, but had no children involved.
Watching the liberal "pro-women's rights" Boxer go after the single and childless Rice seemed almost surreal. For recently fellow Democratic Party member and new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called her own ascension to power a victory for all women. "It's an historic moment for the women of America," said Pelosi. "It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years. . . . But women weren't just waiting. Women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters now, the sky is the limit."
But for Boxer, the sky remains out of reach if, like Rice, you are unmarried and without children. Yet a recent article in The New York Times practically celebrated the phenomenon of the growing number of women living without spouses. For the first time, the number of women living without a spouse exceeds the number of women living with one.
"For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage," says Brookings Institution demographer Dr. William H. Frey. "Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an 'Ozzie and Harriet' era."
The Times quotes one recently divorced 57-year-old, "I'm in a place in my life where I'm comfortable. I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don't feel like I need to do that again." Another divorcee agrees, "The benefits were completely unforeseen for me. The free time, the amount of time I get to spend with friends, the time I have alone, which I value tremendously, the flexibility in terms of work, travel and cultural events."
Wasn't the "women's movement" about choices the choice to have a family or not, the choice to have a career or not, the choice to have children or not? But, Boxer's Law says that Rice's choices effectively disqualify her from the position of secretary of state, given her support of the war.
I thought we'd come a long way, baby. Guess not.