June 18, 2009

A Bite At Some Low-Hanging Fruit, Namely, The Arrogance Of A California Democrat Holding Public Office

I'm hearing slow burn here in my elected representative's voice:

Apparently, she Senator Boxer didn't realize that "Ma'am" is a formal title which military people call women who outrank them in the hierarchy, the equivalent of using the honorific "Sir" to address a man. Or maybe, she Senator Boxer let that little factoid slip her mind. Seems to me that he was being respectful of Senator Boxer by using the phrase "Ma'am." I know that there is a way to use a phrase like "Sir" or "Ma'am" to convey condescension, but I'm not hearing that in the clip; it sounds like he was trying to answer her question in good faith.

It also seems to me that in the U.S. military, a star on your shoulder signifies something more than a reward for perfect attendance and good penmanship, so it's not as if the General himself is insensitive to title and honorifics. And he's earned a right to be given a degree of respect himself. He might have reason to believe that he was midly disrespected by, um, his interlocutor, She-Who-Must-Be-Titled.

I've little to add to this well-drafted blog post from the Christian Science Monitor describing the incident, including the apt reference to South Park. But I also would like to take the time to find a clip of the "shopping on Rodeo Drive" scene from Pretty Woman in which the snooty shopkeeper asks Richard Gere if everything is going well and he says,"We're going to need more sucking up, please. Not me. Her."

1 comment:

David Schraub said...

Actually, the Army's protocol on the matter specifically says to call a Senator (including a female Senator) "Senator". Presumably, the reason is to avoid just this sort of flap.

Look: Tempest in a teapot. Officer made an innocent mistake -- nobody's calling him a bad guy. Senator wants her title used when being addressed -- also totally legitimate. Officer agrees. Should be the end of the story.