Thursday, January 24, 2013

Women Embattled

A curious nexus of two stories occured yesterday, each of which reinforces the other.
First, it was let slip that today, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would authorize women to serve in combat.
Hardly earthshattering, I know. Women have served on the front lines for a decade or more in Afghanistan and Iraq...just ask Tammy Duckworth how she lost her legs. Still, a de jure codification of what is de facto is a welcome development.  
Many objections can and have been raised against women in combat. Most, if not all, have the ring of bigotry about them: how will women handle the death of a comrade? Can women handle the same physical and emotional stresses as a man? and so on.
Echoes of the arguments made when blacks were allowed to serve in the military under Truman.
First off, it's still a volunteer army, which means that women will have to undergo the same training and conditioning the men do. If they can pass that, they can serve on the front lines. It's as simple as that.
As to the question whether women can handle the emotional rigors of service, one need only go into any veteran's hospital to see the men whose minds have been shattered because of the death and destruction they survived. None of us is exempt from emotional triggers and the death of people close to us is a strong one.
I think it's safe to say that, if anyone is to be excluded based on the possibility of an emotional breakdown, then we should all beat our swords into plowshares.
Which would be my preference, but I digress...
But if anyone needs proof of the resilience of women, let's move onto story number two:

When Hillary Clinton went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Republicans opened their bags of overly ripe conspiracy theories and moldering fruitcake ideas and tossed everything at her. Every shot missed.

Republican senators and congressmen on the foreign affairs committees of both houses had insisted that the departing secretary of State come in for a full day of hearings about the deadly terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Some of them must have thought this was a great chance to do preemptive damage to the most popular choice for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Instead, she made them look like the clumsy bad guys in an Aaron Sorkin political drama. 

The State Department's own independent investigative board has already answered most of the serious questions about the Benghazi tragedy in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The panel cited the failures of mid-level officials and suggested 29 ways to improve the system. Clinton said implementation of those steps was already 85% complete.

If there is ANYONE, and I mean, anyone, who had a right to blow up into a complete emotional collapse yesterday, it was Hillary Clinton. For twenty years now, she has been pilloried, excoriated, demonized, belittled, cursed at and spat upon, and yet, in front of the most hostile questioning I've seen coming from Capitol Hill since Anita Hill tried to warn America about Clarence Thomas (Another woman. Interesting.) she maintained her composure, breaking her equanimity only when talking about standing beside the President as the caskets of four brave Americans -- Americans dishonored in life by the very men now verbally abusing their boss and now dishonored in death by these same men who ghoulishly use them as political props -- and comforting their families.

She got angry, too. She got angry because these morons would rather score political points against her than get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi and accept a heaping dole of responsibility as they and there party defunded embassy security, all in the name of...what, exactly? Tax cuts for the rich, is what.

In short, Congressmen and Senators of the right, the truism the rest of the planet lives by, "you get what you pay for," was writ large in Benghazi and you guys tried to stiff the waiter. Shame on you.

She called you on it, and now you're angry. Let me sum up her testimony for you: we're on it, I'm out of here, get over it.

If you need further explanation, I'm sure Senator Kerry would gladly give you a briefing. Even tho you don't deserve one.