A Boxer "Speaks Truth To Power"

As the whole “weblogosphere” knows by now, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) enraged many last week with her personal attack on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a Senate hearing on Thursday. Unlike former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka (né LeRoi Jones), Senator Boxer did not insult Secretary Rice in rhyme: “Condoleeza, she’s a Skeeza.” Rather, she argued that Secretary Rice had no personal stake in the Iraq War because she’s unmarried and childless.

How charming. Why does it always seem as if the self-proclaimed feminists are the first to offer such low blows against their fellow women? After all, you don’t exactly need to be Paula Jones to recognize that the Ms. magazine crowd can be a little tough on the fairer sex.

Still, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” would be remiss if we did not mention how futile we think it is to demand an apology from Senator Boxer. To be sure, an apology is entirely warranted. But you’d stand a better chance of booking a direct flight from Islamabad to Tel Aviv than forcing Senator Boxer to recant.

And this isn’t a reflection on Barbara Boxer’s personality per se. Rather, it’s a comment about the vicissitudes of contemporary American politics: Except in the case of enormous gaffes that pick up massive traction in the media, politicians never apologize.

As a result, we were not surprised to learn of Senator Boxer’s reaction to the controversy her remarks inflamed. On Friday she merely defended herself by claiming that she was “speaking truth to power.”

Oh, boy: We have a hard time believing that Senator Boxer could come up with a retort that would more enrage us. Isn’t there something at least mildly ridiculous about a Senator from California boasting about her Quaker-esque ability to “speak truth to power”? It’s as if this important politician thought of herself as a disenfranchised farm worker. Man, how delusional can you get?

And there’s another reason that Senator Boxer’s remark irked us. Her “speaking truth to power” gambit was a rehash of a line uttered by none other than Edward Said–may peace be upon Him–the late Palestinian propagandist who moonlighted as a Columbia University English professor. Mr. Said, a fancy and powerful scholar in the academic firmament, (in)famously defined the role of an intellectual–and thus his role–as “speaking truth to power.”

Not, of course, the murderous power of Yasir Arafat, Hamas, or sundry other terrorists and murderous organizations. No, Mr. Said liked those folks just fine. Rather, he believed that the true intellectual’s role was to bitch about the evils of America and Israel.

One might have thought that Senator Boxer wouldn’t offer this sordid tip of the cap to the late terrorist apologist Edward Said. We hope she had no idea of his former use of the phrase. But when a fancy-pants Columbia professor and a long-serving Senator start implicitly referring to themselves as “the little guy,” you know that something’s remiss.

(Note: The crack young staff of usually “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently contemplating the ways that Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro can “speak truth to power.”)

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