California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is calling it quits after four terms. What will the liberal heroine — less charitably described by Dennis Miller as “bat-guano crazy, she sleeps up-side down” — be remembered for?
1. Legal abortion until you ‘take your baby home.’ First elected to the Senate in 1992, dubbed the “Year of the Woman,” Boxer may have been the Senate’s leading defender of abortion. During a 1999 debate over an abortion procedure that required the fetus to be partially removed from the womb, she even suggested that life begins when the mother takes the baby home from the hospital.
Boxer said, “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born — and there is no such thing as partial-birth — the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum challenged her on this assertion, saying she couldn’t really believe constitutional rights begin at home.
Boxer: I will answer the question when the baby is born. The baby is born when the baby is outside the mother’s body. The baby is born.
Santorum: I am not going to put words in your mouth…
Boxer: I hope not.
Santorum: But, again, what you are suggesting is if the baby’s toe is inside the mother, you can, in fact, kill that baby.
Boxer: Absolutely not.
Santorum: OK. So if the baby’s toe is in, you can’t kill the baby. How about if the baby’s foot is in?
Boxer: You are the one who is making these statements.
Santorum: We are trying to draw a line here.
Boxer: I am not answering these questions! I am not answering these questions.
2. Taking whatever position on immigration helped Democrats at the time. Boxer has been a leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Such bills usually offer conditional amnesty to most illegal immigrants already in the United States and offer more paths for legal foreign labor.
But when California Gov. Peter Wilson looked like he was going to take a tough stand on illegal immigration in his 1994 re-election campaign, she tried to help Democrats outflank him. Yes, she accused Wilson of “riding the horse of hatred.” But she also said, “When Gov. Wilson was in the United States Senate, he was the strongest voice for bringing cheap labor into this country from Mexico.”
Imagine if a Republican said that!
3. Giving regular global warming-related weather updates. Boxer was really worried about global warming. In the fullness of time, she thought it might wreck the country’s future. Until then, it was ruining the weather.
During a push for the carbon tax, Boxer said global warming caused tornadoes. She blamed it for wildfires in California. She contended that “the extreme cold has contributed to a serious propane shortage in Minnesota.” Climate change also created Hurricane Sandy.
Rush Limbaugh said Boxer could see climate change from her house.
4. Holding a hearing on cap and trade, ending up getting accused of racism. Boxer’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford came to testify against the proposal. Things did not go well.
During Alford’s testimony, Boxer began to cite the NAACP’s support for Waxman-Markey. Alford accused her of putting “up some other black group to pit against me.”
“All that’s condescending, and I don’t like it,” he continued. It’s racial.” Alford asked her why she had to find a black man to quote against him. He accused her of “vile Jim Crow” tactics. He said of the Black Chamber of Commerce, “We’ve been looking at energy policy since 1996 and we are referring to the experts, regardless of their color.”
Alford later said the California Democrat was full of “pure race” and “god awful.”
5. Not wanting to be called ‘ma’am.’ Whatever Alford called Boxer, at least he did not call her “ma’am.” Gen. Michael Walsh learned that lesson the hard way. When the military officer used the pleasantry, Boxer interrupted him. “Do me a favor,” she cut in, “could you say ‘senator’ instead of ‘ma’am?’ It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you.”
However hard Boxer worked for her senator title after first serving five terms in the House, she’ll be giving it up in 2017.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.