Martin Bashir | January 24, 2013
>>> defense secretary leon panetta today declared what a decade of wars in afghanistan and iraq have made painfully clear. women are as combat ready as men.
>> they're fighting and they're dying together, and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.
>> joining us now is goldie taylor, an msnbc contributor, and david corn , d.c. bureau chief of " mother jones " magazine. welcome to you both. goldie , this new policy ends the direct ground combat exclusion for women . you are a former marine and we acknowledge and respect your service, but you've seen what's known as the brass ceiling yourself. so how important is today's announcement by the defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff ?
>> thanks for having me. the reality is women are already serving, you know, on the front line . we're already in specialties, military occupational specials known as mls attached to infantry troops. we're military police officers. we're intelligence officers . you know, we work in jobs that certainly support the infantry and some of us are even helicopter pilots engaged in firefights. some of us have been p.o.w.s, lost limbs, given our lives in this country's stead. what we haven't been is formally recognized for that service and thus not rewarded for that service. we don't have access to many of the military leadership positions because we don't have, you know, recognition for our contribution out there on the front line . but the reality is the front line is changing. the enemy is more likely to be driving a car packed with bombs than to be marching in formation towards with you a group of bayone bayonets. as the nature of war and the nature of the enemy has changed, so then must our fighting force . over the last ten years, we've had an extreme stretch in our capacity out there. that means that more women have had to step up and be more. i think they ought to be recognized and rewarded for that.
>> i think you're absolutely right. david, some have argued this is an act of political correctness and social experimentation. but isn't this simply an acknowledgment of what goldie was just saying, women are sacrificing their lives already. if they have the guts to enlist, how can they possibly be denied the right to serve in the same way as men?
>> you saw probably some of the same tweets and comments that we wrote about at " mother jones " today from our conservative friends who are all agog and aghast over this.
>> i did read those, but there's no need for you to promote your own magazine at every moment.
>> tucker carlson and others said, oh, my god, women in combat , showing they're completely ignorant. don't they know who tammy duckworth is? she gave her legs and now serves in the u.s. house of representatives . this is a technical correction is what happened today. women , as goldie noted, have been serving on the front lines and in combat. they've just been prevented from serving in what is officially designated in combat roles. which means their prospects and opportunities for career advancement have been harmed compared to men. trillionly in the press conference today talking about this, general martin dempsey , the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff , said that he thinks one reason -- partly one reason why there's been a problem with sexual assaults in the military is because women have been treated as second class members of that culture, and he wants them to be on equal footing and that's actually i think a bright day . it's a bright day for the military after obama got rid of don't ask don't tell, moving forward on this, making the military which represents the united states in a lot of ways, truly an equal institution.
>> david, i didn't realize you were telepathic because i'm about to play what general dempsey said. here it is.
>> i believe it's because we've had separate classes of military personnel at some level. you know, it's far more complicated than that, but when you have one part of the population that is designated as warriors and another part that's designated as something else, i think that disparity begins to establish a psychology that in some cases led to that environment.
>> goldie , do you agree with that?
>> absolutely have to agree with that. you know, the proliferation of military rapes, assaults on women , willed soldiers, women marines, women sailors are more likely to be sexual assaulted by their own brethren than they are the enemy. that's the plain fact of the matter and many of those cases are covered up. those women are sent home and those money are dent to duty station to duty station and their careers move on. it's been a long time since a woman joined the military. women have been fighting this good fight a very, very long time. there are relatives of mine, cousins and brothers, who are retired navy officers. they are retired air force . they served in the naef. i'm the only marine in the family. i think that says something about my mindset on this thing. my brother said that i was crazy. he's probably right about that.
>> oh, you're not crazy, goldie . you're not crazy.
>> i think it takes -- but i think that the criteria for me and the criteria for every woman and man who serves ought to be the same, and if a woman, if she qualifies mentally and physically to do the job, then she ought to be allowed to do the job and be paid for it. i don't think the standards ought to be changed or relaxed. i think there are some valid concerns about how we integrate troops and how we, you know, insert women into all male platoons. i think those are valid concerns. those are issues we have to work through and we have to be smart about this.
>> and we have three years to do it. republicans are meeting in charlotte today, as you know. how do you think they will be reacting to a president who made it acceptable for gay men and women in the military and now female on the front lines . newt gingrich says today the party needs to start acting happy. are they going to be happy about this development?
>> newt gingrich and happy, those two ideas don't really mix easily. i think there's a lot of unhappiness and a lot of unease within -- at least the top of the republican ranks, and you have seen in the last few days governor bobby jindal , paul ryan , and john boehner give statements saying, listen, we have to move to a different place than where we are now. we have to show people we're a governing party. that basically we're not unhappy, miserable, and scary. whether they can do that or not, i don't know. boehner did get his default bill through congress yesterday through his own caucus. not with everyone voting for it but with a majority which was mildly surprising and a small step towards sanity. but whether they can go all the what i to full-fledged sanity, well, that remains to be seen.
>> david corn sounding completely optimistic about the republican party . david corn and goldie taylor, thank you so much.