By Bruce B. Brugmann
Last Thursday, Jan.llth, when Sen. Barbara Boxer confronted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the casualties in the Iraq War, the San Francisco Chronicle reported four more soldiers died in the civil war.
On Friday, when the right wing commentators yelled "slime" at Barbara and tried to change the subject by updating the swiftboat routine, the Chronicle reported "At least l9 people were reported killed or dead nationwide Friday, including l0 bullet-riddled bodies found in Baghdad and an Iraqi journalist who was killed in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul. KhudrYounis al-Obaidi was the second journalist killed this year."
Meanwhile, even the Chronicle helped change the subject by playing the Boxer/Rice story big on on its Friday Jan. l3th front page. Carla Marinucci lead posed a naive and irrelevant question: Was Boxer's "heated confrontation" with Rice "a case of 'vicious feminine politics--as some critics have suggested--or merely the politics of frank talk in tough times?"
Marinucci wrote that 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's statement was right on target, as were those of many other senators (Democrat and
Republican) who attacked the war and Bush when she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But the swiftboaters were out in gale force, not to discuss the Bush casualties or the issues of a war gone to hell, but to try to change the subject and attack Boxer, whose major sin it appears is that she happens to have been right about the war almost from the beginning. The New York Post/Murdoch called her comments "a low blow." Tony Snow, the White House spokesman and former Fox News/Murdoch personality, said the comments were "outrageous" and said that Boxer had made "a great leap backward for feminism." Fox News/Murdoch commentator Karen Hanretty whacked Boxer for talking about Rice's "breeding history."
Fox/Murdoch ran screaming heads all day Friday saying "Will Boxer Apologize?" and "Boxer slimes Rice."
And Bill O"Reilly, the FoxNews/Murdoch star of slither and slime, took up the issue Friday night with Angela Alioto.
Boxer, to her immense credit, refused to apologize in the Marinucci story. "This is just typical of what they do...
the Bush administration always goes after me, and anyone who has been against the war from the start," she said. "It's 'kill the messenger.'" Boxer said she will continue to be tough on the issue of the war because the "focus (on casualties) is crucial."
Alioto, to her immense credit, stood up to Reilly on his Fox program, ably defended Boxer, got in some nice punches and kept making the casualties point by saying that "we fight wars with other people's children" and "if everybody in Congress had a child in Iraq, we wouldn't be in Iraq."
The back and forth was delicious: O'Reilly: She (Boxer) denigrated Secretary Rice because Secretary Rice...
Alioto: That is not true.
O'Reilly: ...doesn't have any children.
Alioto: She would have said the same thing to a man. She would have said the same thing to a man. (See the full transcript below.)
Good for Barbara. Good for Angela. Keep it up. Keep the pressure on.
Meanwhile the Ballis report came in this morning with this count:
+U.S. Military killed in action in Iraq today (l/l5/O7): 2
+Current Total: 3,029
+Wounded total to (l/l0/07): 22,834
Wounded (l2/28 to l/l0/07): 120
See the Guardian editorial "Cut off the war money" in our current issue and on our website. We will regularly publish a snapshot of the statistics of military, civilian, and journalist casualties that tell this tragedy that grows grimmer by the day. B3