The Corner

In Dubious Battle

Yesterday I posted that Gov. Bob McDonnell’s comments on women in combat, though aimed at Sen. Santorum, placed him to the left of President Obama. Jennifer Rubin says “that’s wrong.” But I can’t quite tell from her post just what I’ve gotten wrong.

Am I wrong to suggest that McDonnell’s comments imply support for putting women “in the front lines . . . in combat positions,” to use his words? (An implication his spokesman’s comment sidesteps.) Am I wrong to note that Obama’s Pentagon is allowing women to serve “closer to the front lines than ever before,” but not going quite this far? Or am I wrong to suggest that a more aggressive easing of the rules can be reasonably be described as a more liberal policy? Given that all the organized opposition to easing these rules comes from conservatives and its most enthusiastic supporters are liberals, that would be a hard case to make.

You can think that the easing of these restrictions is a welcome advance for gender equality, as Rubin and Gov. McDonnell appear to believe, or that they are a step back for civilization and sensible military-personnel policy, as I am inclined to think. But I don’t see how you can dispute this point: If McDonnell meant what he said, he should want Obama to go further.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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