In his January 24 "Washington Sketch" column for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank wrote that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), at a January 11 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, "took a dig at Condoleezza Rice because the secretary of state is childless." Similarly, National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg, in his January 24 nationally syndicated column, claimed that Boxer "belittled" the secretary of state "because Rice doesn't have children and therefore cannot appreciate the full impact of war the way Boxer can." In fact, Boxer, rather than attacking Rice for not having children, drew a comparison between Rice and herself, noting that neither of them will "pay a personal price" for the Iraq war because neither has immediate family serving in Iraq.
At the January 11 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Boxer said:
BOXER: Now, the issue is who pays the price. Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.
Milbank, however, wrote in his January 24 column on the State of the Union address:
Other lawmakers used the moment in the spotlight to display their quirks and eccentricities. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who recently took a dig at Condoleezza Rice because the secretary of state is childless, walked right past Rice without even a pause at the start of the speech. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) greeted Bush with cheers of "way-oh," as if watching a football game, then later found time to peruse his BlackBerry -- as did Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), who claimed her favorite seat on the aisle at 8:06 a.m. -- 11 hours and 54 minutes before the speech -- was there to shake the notables' hands in front of the cameras.
Goldberg went a step further -- not only did he falsely claim Boxer "belittled" Rice for not having children, he also suggested that Boxer was somehow being hypocritical in doing so because she "doesn't have any kids in uniform, nor would they be eligible for a draft if there was one." From Goldberg's January 24 column:
In her first appearance as a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton spoke at a community center while holding the hand of small child. Nancy Pelosi has said that when she took the Speaker's gavel, she took it "from the hands of the special interests and (put it) into the hands of America's children." Sen. Barbara Boxer recently belittled Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice because Rice doesn't have children and therefore cannot appreciate the full impact of war the way Boxer can.
Of course, there's no draft, and Boxer doesn't have any kids in uniform, nor would they be eligible for a draft if there was one.
However, as the transcript above makes clear, Boxer herself noted that her own children and grandchild are not eligible to join in the military.
As Media Matters for America noted, Republicans and conservative media figures seized on Boxer's remarks to Rice as an attack on single, childless women.