Friday, January 12, 2007

Iraq Debate Gets Personal: Boxer v. Rice

Today's McCarville Report in OKC says the blogosphere is abuzz about California Sen. Barbara Boxer's rude treatment of Secretary of State Condi Rice yesterday in the Senate hearings of Iraq. We missed the original discussion, but news accounts report that Sen. Boxer asked Rice "Who pays the price?" in Iraq, pointing out the fact that Rice did not have a child on the line in the war.

Perhaps Sen. Boxer was unfair in raising Rice's childless status. Getting married and having children is surely a highly personal decision.

On the other hand, Boxer was living up to the democratic spirit expressed in the famous free expression case of 1964, New York Times v. Sullivan. In that case, the court reaffirmed the nation's commitment to "a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open…."

Such debate, the court continued, "may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

The bloggers may not like it, but Boxer was exercising her right to criticize a top public official, something that every senator—indeed, every citizen (and blogger)—has a right to do.

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