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Who in their right mind seriously thinks a woman has an equal chance to survive in a physical battle with a man?

Why, oh why, with one foot out the door, did Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta announce on Jan. 24 that he was opening all combat jobs to women? What was he thinking?

Sen. John McCain, a war hero who is long past retirement age, applauded the move. What was he thinking?

Both of these men have stood tall in support of a strong national defense. Why would they throw in the towel on an issue that is a lose-lose for our fighting forces as well as women in general?

Do they honestly think we will be better off as a nation when women are used as cannon fodder?

No, I think they just want to be liked by their friends on the left, their liberal friends with whom they rub elbows in the Capitol day after day. They also want to be admired by the overwhelmingly left-of-center journalists, whom they hope will write nice things about them as they bid adieu to Washington and head off into the sunset.

At one time these were brave men. Not anymore! They are cowards!

Both of these guys have prided themselves in walking a thin line down the middle of the road.

McCain has done the political two-step better than most. Foot in left: McCain announced he “supports lifting the ban on women serving in combat, pointing out that women are already serving in harm’s way.” Foot in right: McCain says, “As this new rule is implemented, it is critical that we maintain the same high standards that have made the American military the most feared and admired fighting force in the world. …”

This wasn’t McCain’s best move, but it was calculated. Feminists on the left are a small but vocal bunch. Women on the right are soft-spoken and polite, ignored by the mainstream media and, for the most part, ignored by their representatives in Washington.

Panetta, on the other hand, long ago cast his lot with Democrats. Recently, he has rubbed them the wrong way. Not only has he been outspoken on their proposed cuts to the military, he has acknowledged that critical information was, indeed, obtained through waterboarding.

What could he do to get back in their good graces before making his departure? He lifted the ban on women in combat. The left swooned.

Most enlisted women, who want the honor of serving their country, don’t want the honor of dying in a battle against enemy soldiers. It’s a suicide mission, and they know it.

It is angry feminists, who have no use for the military but are out to prove that women and men are interchangeable fungibles, who have driven this debate. At the tip of this spear is a handful of women officers who want to run things (safely out of harm’s way) and feel they need to step over the dead bodies of women soldiers to get their advancement.

For the last couple of decades, our military leaders have given in to this pressure and slowly blurred the lines between combat and combat support. As a result, some enlisted women who were injured joined lawsuits suing for the combat pay that is due. Who can blame them?

As the rhetoric goes, “Let the women who can qualify be admitted to these jobs.” Sure! The average man is six inches taller, 30 pounds heavier and, more importantly, has 42 percent more upper body strength than the average woman. It may not be fair, but that is reality.

It is a sad fact that the physical standards in our service academies and at many levels of the military already have been relaxed to allow women to compete with men. We are about to see more of this as the battlefront positions are opened to women. This is a disservice to both genders.

Let us not forget that military personnel don’t pick their positions. They are assigned to those positions. Also, if the current change is implemented, women will be subject to the draft.

These are just some of the reasons the Pentagon must notify Congress as each job or unit is opened to women. Then, the Defense Department must wait 30 days while Congress is in session before these changes go into effect. That is because Congress makes the rules that govern military personnel.

Your elected representatives have the power to stop this nonsense! Will they stand tall or will they also be cowards?