Senator Barbara Boxer (D) California is a woman who is very jealous of her dignity and of proper forms of address, as Brigadier General Michael Walsh found out to his cost during a recent Senate hearing.
According to Fox News:
“Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was testifying on the Louisiana coastal restoration process in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He began to answer one of Boxer’s questions with “ma’am” when Boxer immediately cut him off.
“‘You know, do me a favor,’ a piqued Boxer said. ‘Could say ‘senator’ instead of ‘ma’am?”
“‘Yes, ma’am,’ Walsh interjected.
“‘It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you,’ she said.
“‘Yes, senator,’ he responded.
People in the military are trained to refer to people higher in the chain of command as “sir” or “ma’am.” It is certain that General Michael Walsh meant no disrespect to Senator Barbara Boxer when he referred to her in the same way that he would have referred to, say, a female Lt. General or even the President were the President a female. According to Hot Air’s Allahpundit, General Walsh referred to the male Senators at the hearing as “sir” without receiving even a dirty look for any faux pas in protocol.
Allahpundit went on to ask, “Is Boxer’s ego so fragile and her method so imperious that she’d publicly humiliate a guy whom she has no reason to believe is being anything less than respectful?”
It should be noted that the Queen of England, a title with a little more history and perhaps a little more exalted than that of United States Senator, is referred to as “ma’am” by anyone who is given the privilege to greet her, peasant or President. Nor does Queen Elizabeth get snippy at violations of protocol, such as the time First Lady Michelle Obama started to paw her as if she were an old sorority sister.
Of course one can respond that the Queen of England got to be Queen of England by just being born in the right family. Senator Barbara Boxer got to be a United States Senator by gulling a majority of the people of the state of California into voting for her; a task that may be harder than it looks.
Still it might add rather than detract to Senator Barbara Boxer’s dignity if she were to behave more like a United States Senator and nor as a Senator of the Roman Empire. Unless she is carried out of the Senate feet first, such as Senator Robert Byrd and a few others are likely to be, Barbara Boxer will be a private citizen one of these days. Then she will have to work at being called “ma’am” and not a few other names that will not be mentioned in an article that may be read by children and more sensitive readers.
Sources: Boxer, the U.S. Senator, Chides Brigadier General for Calling Her ‘Ma’am’, Fox News, June 18th, 2009
Boxer gets snotty with general: Address me as “senator,” not “ma’am”, Allahpundit, Hot Air, June 17th, 2009
Michelle Obama Touches the Queen of England, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, April 2nd, 2009