Oh, I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have been a Senator in that room.
Actually, I wish I could have been the Junior Senator from the Great State of Missouri in that hearing room, scheduled to ask the next question after the Junior Senator from California completed her round of questions.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was questioning Brigadier General Michael Walsh about something — it doesn’t matter what — during a hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Boxer received her seventeen seconds of fame on the Internet with a terse and extremely irreverent tirade against the General.
If you missed the video, here it is.
The exchange went like this:
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA): Well, why has it been delayed?
Brigadier General Michael Walsh: Uh, Ma’am, at the uh, LACPR is a …
Senator Boxer: I don’t… You know, do me a favor. Could you say “Senator” instead of “Ma’am”?
General Walsh: Yes…
Senator Boxer: It’s just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. So I’d appreciate it. Yes, thank you.
General Walsh: Yes, Senator.
(If you listen closely, you can actually hear a little giggle from somebody in the background right after Senator Boxer’s declaration of working “so hard to get that title”.)
In my wildest of dreams, I am the Senator from Missouri. Immediately after Senator Boxer, it is my turn – according to the rules of the Senate Committee – to ask my questions of the General.
The exchange would go something like this.
Senator Joe DeShon (R-MO): (To Senator Boxer) Thank you, Senator, for yielding your time. (Turning to the General) General Walsh, before I start my questioning, I want to inform you that you are welcome to call me “Sir”, or “Senator”, or “Mr. DeShon” – maybe even “Joe” – as you see fit. You have certainly earned that right in return for your service to our country, for which I am eternally grateful.
General Walsh: Thank you, sir.
And, with that formal exchange, the questioning would continue.
Senator Boxer has forgotten that being a Brigadier General is a service to the country. General Walsh certainly has a right to show his pride by wearing his uniform and displaying his stars in public.
A Senator, on the other hand, is a job for which someone is hired by the voters of their respective state. They are to serve on behalf of those citizens by making laws as mandated by the Constitution of the United States.
The Senator further needs to realize that the first thing that members of the military are taught is to show respect for authority. That respect is usually demonstrated in public by referring to everybody as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. At worst, the general was demonstrating that he is a creature of habit. At best, he is showing respect to the Senator by calling her “Ma’am”, much more respect for her than she showed for him.
If somebody feels that they had to “work hard” for the title of Senator, that person should be shamed into retirement. That is especially true if that person is so insecure in her title that she feels the need to proclaim such a fact on the public record by humiliating a member of the Armed Forces of the greatest country on Earth.
I’m sure after my little display of arrogance in the hearing room that I would be chastised in the hallways of the Senate — perhaps in public — by Senator Boxer or her representatives for the disrespect that I displayed to my colleague. That’s okay; I have tough skin. I can take it.
I am also sure that I would be privately taken to the woodshed by the Republican leadership of the Senate for failing to respect the esteemed opposition and the majority party. I would probably be relieved of any leadership in the Senate. That’s okay; they didn’t hire me for the job.
I am also sure that my mailbox would be full of congratulatory words of encouragement from my constituents at home and that my chances for re-election by those voters would go up by several percentage points for standing my ground on principle.
It would be worth it.
Yep, I definitely need to get serious about this run for Congress…