In a disgraceful display of thin-skinned pettiness and vanity, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Tuesday rudely interrupted Army Brigadier General Michael Walsh during his testimony to rebuke him for calling her "Ma'am." Apparently unfamiliar with - or disdainful of - military protocol, Boxer scolded the General in the following exchange:
"You know, do me a favor," an irritated 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.
Like "Sir," the word "Ma'am" is an appropriate and respectful moniker to apply to a person in a position of authority. This is proper military protocol and has been longstanding practice. It is not known why Boxer is suddenly objecting to the term. The same day, in a separate hearing, two Navy Officers referred repeatedly to Senator Roger Wicker as "sir." Niether Wicker nor other observers raised any objections.
Few Americans are under the illusion that statesmanship is alive and well in this edition of the Senate, but Boxer's shameful and arrogant display demeans her and the Senate far more than it does the General whom she hectored. Furthermore, it could reinforce many negative stereotypes of feminists as angry and insecure, liberals as imperious elitists, and San Francisco Bay Area residents as anti-military.
By being selfish and unnecessarily antagonistic, Boxer has further poisoned the atmosphere in the Senate and has greatly diminished her own stature and credibility. She should immediately apologize to General Walsh, to her colleagues in the Senate, and to her constituents for her gross disrespect of military personnel and protocol. Only by apologizing - and soon - can the Senator hope to regain respect and avoid being seen as an irrelevant and petty clown.