- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 13, 2007

The White House and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday accused Democrats of suggesting that the secretary’s childlessness, race and sex are to blame for mistakes in Iraq.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Sen. Barbara Boxer’s comments that Miss Rice won’t “pay the price” for her decisions in the Iraq war because she is unmarried and without children was a “great leap backward for feminism.”

“I don’t know if she was intentionally that tacky, but I do think it’s outrageous,” he told Fox News.

“Here you’ve got a professional woman, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Barbara Boxer is sort of throwing little jabs because Condi doesn’t have children, as if that means that she doesn’t understand the concerns of parents.”

But Mrs. Boxer and Democrats are making no apologies.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii called Miss Rice “the most overrated, underperforming individual in executive authority that I have ever seen.”

“She constantly gets a pass,” he told the Honolulu Star Bulletin this week, days before the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day. “Who knows if the whole question of race and gender come into it, but … I can’t account for it, except to say she isn’t up to the mark.”

But it was Mrs. Boxer’s remarks about Miss Rice that generated the most outrage yesterday.

“Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price?” Mrs. Boxer said to Miss Rice during a Senate Armed Services hearing Thursday. “I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young.”

Then she told Miss Rice: “You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So, who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact.”

Miss Rice replied that she does understand the sacrifice Americans and their families are making in Iraq.

“Let me just say, I fully understand the sacrifice that the American people are making, and especially the sacrifice that our soldiers are making, men and women in uniform,” she told the committee. “I visit them. I know what they’re going through. I talk to their families. I see it.”

Mrs. Boxer didn’t budge.

“Madam Secretary, please, I know you feel terrible about it,” she replied. “That’s not the point. I was making the case as to who pays the price for your decisions.”

Later, Miss Rice said she was confused by the whole exchange, which is hardly the first time Miss Rice and Mrs. Boxer have exchanged sharp words.

“I guess that means I don’t have kids. Was that the purpose?” Miss Rice said later on Fox News. “At the time I just found it a bit confusing, frankly, in retrospect, I thought single women had come further than that. The only question is, are you making good decisions because you have kids?”

Mrs. Boxer stood by her questioning of Miss Rice yesterday.

“I spoke the truth at the committee hearing, which is that neither Secretary Rice nor I have family members that will pay the price for this escalation,” she said. “My point was to focus attention on our military families who continue to sacrifice because this administration has not developed a political solution to the situation in Iraq.”

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