Friday, June 19, 2009

I Know Your Name But Excuse me "Ma'am"

For the last day or so people have been all buzz about Senator Barbara Boxer's correction of Brigadier General Michael Walsh to address her as "Senator" instead of "Ma'am" during a session earlier this week. Some people think that she owes him an apology for the "dressing down" (as Fox News calls it) she gave him. Some people think that she was simply politely asking him to address her properly. Me? I'm kinda in the middle.

First off if Boxer wants to be addressed as "Senator" instead of "Ma'am" there is nothing wrong with making the correction and I hope the people who are clamoring for an apology realize that making such a correction does not warrant an apology. However they may be talking about what she said when correcting him.
"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. (emphasis mine)

This to me seems like upon being called "Ma'am" she instantly decided that he was trying to undermine her authority and disrespect her when I highly doubt this was the case. Now I'm sure that there are people and bloggers out there that will see the people calling for an apology and assume that such people are trying to paint her as an uptight bitch or something and I'm also sure that those people will claim that she was being polite when asking him to address her properly.

Its understood that it is military protocol to address a woman higher in the chain of command as "Ma'am" so its pretty clear that he did not intend to disrepect her hard work in achieving her position. At the same time Sen. Boxer perfers to be called "Senator". In the end I would say that while the fact that she corrected him was proper she went a bit overboard with mentioning her hard work. An apology may not be the fix but she could have corrected him in a more respectful manner than she did.

(In case the title looks odd its a play on the Chris Brown song "Excuse Me Miss" in which one of the chorus lines is "I don't know your name but excuse me miss...".)