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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go to Liebau index]

Straight Talk for Female Voters
The Best Way to “Care” About Women Is To Keep Their Families Safe
[Carol Platt Liebau] 5/17/04

In Washington last week, the President’s “W Stands for Women” initiative had a banner kick-off. Presidential sister Doro Bush Koch spoke, as did Mary Cheney – the Vice President’s daughter – along with Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Republican National Committee Co-Chairman Ann Wagner. They made an excellent case for the President’s record, discussing tax cuts, the President’s concern for the burgeoning numbers of women-owned small businesses across America, and even referenced the No Child Left Behind Act (hardly a favorite of conservatives, owing to Teddy Kennedy’s unwarranted role in crafting the legislation).

Attendees at the rally were the “usual suspects” – female Bush partisans to the core. But the “W Stands for Women” initiative isn’t aimed at them; it’s intended to serve as a vehicle by which the President can make his case to an essential part of the “swing vote” in this year’s elections – suburban married working women. It’s good that these women learn about President Bush’s domestic record, as well as his outspoken and oft-voiced concerns about the multi-billion industry in sex-trafficking, his unprecedented funding to ameliorate the AIDS crisis that is killing women in Africa, and the 25 million women in Iraq and Afghanistan who, because of American liberation, now have a chance to obtain an education, to vote, and to live without being treated like animals.

But these are not issues that will, in the end, win the President the votes of undecided female suburbanites. Instead, those of us who support the President must explain why the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq needed to be fought, and why we must continue there despite morale-eroding news like the prisoner abuse scandal out of Abu Ghraib. It’s time for a little straight talk with the white, middle-class suburban women of America.

Over the next few months, we’re all going to hear a lot about how “women” object to the war in Iraq. Let’s be clear: This opposition to President Bush has little to do with his foreign policy. Liberal American feminists like Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton object to the President because he does not express unqualified support for abortion rights, gay marriage, large-scale redistribution of income and the rest of the left-wing agenda.

While they are entitled to hold whatever views they choose, these women have lost whatever tenuous moral claim they used to assert to speak to and for “women” as a whole. Remember, the anti-war Democratic “feminists” were apparently willing to consign women to the tender mercies of the Taliban in Afghanistan (where they were beaten for appearing in public unescorted by a male relative) or to Uday Hussein in Iraq, where he raped women for sport. And they are some of the same hypocrites who objected to sexual harassment only until it was perpetrated by a President of their own party.

What female Democrats won’t tell America’s women is this: We are at war. It’s not a figurative war, like the “War on Poverty,” and it doesn’t refer to figurative violence, like “Whip Inflation Now.” It’s a real war, where the future of the world, the status of women, and the lives of our children are at stake. We are trying to defend ourselves against fanatics who, quite simply, want to take over the world and see us dead. Our enemy believes that women and girls were ordained to be inferior, that they deserve neither respect nor consideration, and that they were created only for the purpose of bearing (male) children. Women’s lives are held so cheap that male relatives are able to murder their own daughters and sisters with impunity if they have been raped by another man. And they intend to see America recast in this same Islamofascist image.

The people we are fighting want to see American children die. They exult at the images of the weeping sons and daughters who lost parents in the Twin Towers or at the Pentagon on 9/11. These are people who would behead your son or daughter if they had the chance – just as they did Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg – and praise their God in the aftermath. If they are able to get their hands on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, they will gladly launch an attack that will make 9/11 look like an afternoon at Bliss spa. They are the people who used the Taliban to gain sanctuary in Afghanistan, and who would gladly take, buy or steal the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop in Iraq.

We fear these people, and we are right to do so. They are so fundamentally warped, their motives and actions so entirely evil, that they are not responsive to kindness, to negotiation, or even to reason. And so the question becomes: How do we stay safe and free? Is the correct course the “nuanced” one advocated by John Kerry – to treat terrorism like a law-enforcement issue, and invite the weak-kneed bureaucrats at the United Nations to take the pre-eminent role in keeping Americans from harm? Or do we follow President Bush’s policy of taking the fight to our enemies, so that they cannot choose the time and place of their own attacks? And if we are to err, should it be by underestimating the hatred and cunning of our enemies, or by having been “too” willing to confront an evil dictator who used chemical weapons on his own people, when our intelligence indicated that he still possessed a forbidden, deadly arsenal?

The threat to our children, to us and to our fellow citizens is not over until the Islamofascists are dead, and the fever swamps of radicalism have been drained – one way or another. Suburban women, swing voters and all Americans must remember: Wars are never pretty, they are never easy – and they are never won by people with tender sensibilities and delicate stomachs. The outcome is obvious only in retrospect, and along the way, there are always mistakes and miscalculations, surprises and setbacks.

With the inevitable setbacks come the naysayers, often “sunshine patriots and summer soldiers” who eagerly seize on any weakness as an excuse to claim America’s cause is ill-begotten and our efforts a failure. They are the people who predicted that Ronald Reagan would start a nuclear war, that Afghanistan couldn’t be liberated, and that door-to-door fighting would cause 500,000 to lie dead in the streets of Baghdad. They are the people who would use the actions of a criminal few Americans at Abu Ghraib to sully the honor of the entire U.S. military – tantamount to claiming that Andrea Yates, Scott Peterson and Jeffrey Dahmer represent ordinary Americans.

The difference between us and our enemies is simple: We are appalled by acts of brutality, whether perpetrated by our enemy or by our own rogue soldiers; they rejoice in them. We went into Iraq and Afghanistan to save our (and their) children’s lives; they want our children to die.

In the months and weeks to come, we’ll all be hearing a lot about which presidential candidate “cares” more about women. But “caring” – first and foremost – means keeping American women and their families alive, and free. That means having a President with the unwavering determination to wage a vigorous and tenacious fight against terrorism, without ambivalence and without apology. And that means a vote for President George W. Bush. CRO

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and editorial director based in San Marino, CA.

copyright 2004


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