The Cycle | January 24, 2013
>>> everyone, men and women alike, everyone is committed to doing the job. they're fighting and they're dying together. and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.
>> that was secretary of defense leon panetta this afternoon announcing the end of the military's ban on women in combat . the move overturns a 1994 policy preventing women from serving in most dangerous posts and expected to open up hundreds of thousands of jobs to women . when fully implemented they could serve in special ops units like delta force . let's spin on it. first of all, i mean, politically this issue is designed to get republicans to come out and criticize it so that democrats can say, we're on war on women , more war on women . but having never served myself i'm reluctant to take a strong position on this but i have talked to people who have served and are serving and reading a lot about what people who have served are saying. one such voice, ryan smith , in "the wall street journal " had this concern writing despite the professionalism of marines, it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex . in the reverse it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable position. it's based on cohesion. the relationships of members of a unit can be harmed by forcing them to violate societial norms. i think and again this is, you know, i think a military decision. and military voices know best here, but it seems like any time we ignore that there are actual real differences between men and women we open up a ban dora's box of problems we don't know are coming down the pike and i would encourage a little caution on this.
>> i mean, i think this is a proud day in practice. those norms shredded in the military for quite a long time. women have been on the front lines fighting, getting killed. i think we have lost over 150 women in iraq and afghanistan over the past few years. there's no simple delineation of where the war zone is anymore and tammy duckworth and others giving parts of their body an given their lives will say we have been fighting for a long time. you cannot ascend to the higher levels of the military because you have to have combat experience and women are getting combat experience but not recognized for it because officially they can't be in combat and can't get to the higher levels of military and bad for the military. this is going to give women a chance to get recognized for the thingless they have done. i mean, this sort of idea that women physically weaker all across the board than men was destroyed a long time ago. i think we know goldie taylor, a marine. about as tall as the table and can kick any man's butt in this building.
>> weaker is the straw man. no one said weaker. i said different and we are.
>> we should point out the same physical standards, women will have to meet the same physical standards.
>> to be able to serve in special forces , et cetera . and strikes me that a lot of arguments against this, sort of societal norms are similar to gays serving openly in the military and in fact we saw with that the transition has been relatively uneventful and many of our allies already have gays serving openly in the military. have for a long time. and also have women serving on the front lines in combat already. and there's been no deterioration in unit cohesiveness. there's no deterioration in effectiveness. so, lacking any evidence that this would create a problem, i don't see any reason we wouldn't as you were saying, toure, codify and acknowledge the reality that's happening on the ground.
>> it's already happening.
>> there is a time when societal norms that blacks and whites should live separately. harry truman said in the military that ought not to be the case. i don't think that hurt.
>> no. but men and women are actually different. that's the point. there are actual differences.
>> right. but you're making the -- what you said is saying we should think twice before violating an societal norm . we have in --
>> based on the belief that blacks and whites were different.
>> this is based on the belief that everybody should have the opportunity if they can pass certain physical tests, if they can pass certain mental tests, they should have the opportunity to serve and to advance. this is about opportunity. not necessarily outcome. but the point i wanted to make actually had nothing to do with that. harry truman frequently comes to my head. it's striking to me that this comes a couple days after obama's second inaugural address and in that address we heard a lot of very liberal themes. this was not not -- what's the big takeaway about the speech? this was not sort of an olive branch obama, that is really sort of proud statement of liberal beliefs and now you have got action on one front. you have action on women in combat and it seems to me the sort of bind that become's in here pursuing a liberal agenda for the second term is looking at the social safety net , jobs, programs, you get opposition of republicans in congress and financial issues but there are things that he can do. this being one of them. his administration can make it ease why are for women to serve in combat and liberalism without a price tag and a theme of the second term.
>>> straight ahead, action on capitol hill and testimony to change the rules of engagement . see how i tied that all together? we cycle on with