"Just last night a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military, and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not."I don't think John McCain was talking about fear. I would presume that for McCain, the courage of those in the military is understood. The question is equal opportunity in one's career, and a capable, ambitious woman choosing a career path should take account of the obstacles ahead. If one line of work is notorious for hounding women for sex and even forcing it on them and that those in charge were failing to take the problem seriously, you might decide to do something else with your life.
The Dowd column goes on to discuss the legal question of how sexual assaults should be prosecuted — inside or outside the military:
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told me the arguments of the brass “boiled down to an almost mystical notion of the commanders’ responsibility. Why can’t we cut the strings to the British system we inherited from George III? The British are baffled by us. They gave control over major crimes to professional prosecutors years ago. It’s an institutional structure that has outlived its utility and credibility.”Does Fidell want us to copy the British or to stop copying the British? We're copying the old British approach and failing to change it to what the British do now. Imagine applying that legal argument across the board. Forget all the legal principles inherited from the British at the time of this country's founding and switch to what the British have devolved into over the years. I have no idea what the right answer is about prosecuting serious crimes, but I hate the general argument about giving up our legal inheritance from the British because the British themselves have tossed it out.
As Sarah Plummer, a beautiful ex-Marine who served in Iraq and says she was raped by a fellow Marine who was never prosecuted, explained to NBC News’s Jim Miklaszewski: “Having someone within your direct chain of command handling the case” is like “your brother raping you and having your dad decide the case.”Why specify that she's "beautiful"? I get the impression it's supposed to boost her credibility. Or do you think it's a random detail? And dad deciding the case between sister and brother is a vivid and memorable analogy, but it's not completely apt. There's an issue here to be decided — how to deal with sex assaults and sexual harassment in the military — and it should be decided with sober rationality, not iffy analogies, deference to Brits, or emotional manipulation.