The Commander in Chief

I don’t expect the president to know everything going on under his command—the government is so vast, as David Axelrod reminds us—but let’s at least consider President Obama’s complicity in this:

In the days since the Defense Department’s May 7 release of its 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, the media and lawmakers have been abuzz. The report’s estimate that last year 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact prompted many to conclude, incorrectly, that this reliably estimated the number of victims of sexual assault.

The 2012 estimate was also significantly higher than the last estimate, causing some to proclaim a growing “epidemic” of sexual assault in the military. The truth is that the 26,000 figure is such bad math—derived from an unscientific sample set and extrapolated military-wide—that no conclusions can be drawn from it.

Here is what we do know: The actual number of reported sexual assaults in the military in 2012 was 3,374, up from 3,192 in 2011. These figures include reports by civilians against service members. Of the 3,374 total cases reported last year, only 12%-14% were reported by men.

Whatever the number, we can all agree that one is too many. As the C-in-C, what is President Obama’s responsibility, even his complicity? We know he’s not above abusing the military himself.

Earlier, I expressed to Aggie in a comment that the “what if Bush” construct was pretty worn out—yet still vital to understanding today’s political landscape. What if sexual abuse had been rampant (or seen to be rampant) in the military under President Bush? The media elites would have been all over the story like flies on s-s-s-ugar. Gauntanamo, Abu Ghraib, waterboarding, they would have seen everything as contributing to sexual assault in armed forces.

Watch how easy (if dishonest) it is: President Obama’s demeaning attitude toward women, which has shown itself early and often, leads to a hostile environment in the military that serves under him. Calling a woman reporter “Sweetie”, saying Hillary was “likable enough”: could he be any more patronizing? Saying he wouldn’t want his daughters “stuck with a baby” shows a disrespect for the biological uniqueness of women (whether they choose to have children or not). His inner circle (to say nothing of his golfing buddies) is so estrogen deprived, it’s practically in menopause.

No wonder there’s so much sexual assault in the military (or there isn’t, who knows, who cares, that’s not my point). Misogyny comes from the top down. The only difference between my argument and an argument against Bush is that mine is based on fact.

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