Saturday, June 20, 2009
Check the ego, ma'am
When Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States, he took no offense at people referring to him as “sir” or “Mr. Lincoln” instead of his official salutation as “Mr. President.” Lincoln, of course, was known for his simple manner and humility.
The United States Senate, on the other hand has the reputation of the opposite. Twenty years ago, retired Senator Barry Goldwater referred to his colleagues at the end of tenure as “blow dried” and talk about the pompous nature of United States Senators. This past week, that pompous nature was illustrated by Senator Barbara Boxer of California.
Senator Boxer is Chair of the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. In that role, Boxer chaired a hearing this week that had Brigadier General Michael Walsh of the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a witness. General Walsh made the mistake of referring to Boxer as “ma’am.” According to Fox News, that resulted in the following exchange.
"You know, do me a favor," a clearly agitated Boxer said. "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?"
"Yes, ma'am," Walsh replied.
"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 answered.
Can you imagine the arrogance and sense of self importance that Boxer has? Or is a streak of insecurity? With all the problems the nation faces, she wastes a moment of national time making sure a General refers to her as “senator” instead of “ma’am.” It would have been one thing if General Walsh had called her “Barbie” or something like that. But, for a military officer to be using the protocol salutation to a person of higher rank and be so dressed down is a sign of the self importance of Senator Boxer, not the rudeness of General Walsh.
To his credit, General Walsh handled the matter with grace. However, Senator Boxer’s sense of self importance and flat arrogance is clear. That leaves VUI to offer this to Senator Boxer: “Check the ego, ma’am.”