U.S. Army Brigadier General Michael Walsh "learned his lesson the hard way" by crossing a very testy Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in testimony before a Senate committee yesterday, according to MSNBC's Chris Matthews. [audio available here]
Walsh's grave transgression: calling the senator, "ma'am." For that, the "Hardball" host treated Walsh as part of the day's "political sideshow," literally, in his June 18 program:
Sen. BARBARA BOXER: Do me a favor. Could you say, "Senator," instead of "Ma'am"? It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. So I'd appreciate it. Yes, thank you.
Brig. Gen. WALSH: Yes, Senator.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: She sure did, she's been elected three times, by the way. So I guess the question is this: Had he said "sir" to a male senator, would that senator be correct in correcting the general? There is a history, however, and let us not forget, of male-female condescension in the U.S. Senate. Just recall the Anita Hill testimony of not too long ago.
MATTHEWS: That just might encourage a woman senator to insist on the title, senator. That being said, an Army spokesman later today says "sir, ma'am, or senator" are all deemed appropriate under the protocol when addressing a U.S. Senator. That's their story.
So let's get this straight, Boxer, thrice elected and who doubtlessly worked hard to get where she is in politics, is more deserving of respect than a U.S. Army officer who was treating Boxer respectfully and has himself doubtlessly worked hard to achieve what he has in the U.S. military?
General Walsh was addressing the senator in a manner prescribed by protocol, as doubtless he'd been previously instructed on the proper protocol for U.S. Senate testimony, yet to Matthews, that's simply the Army's "story", even as Matthews fabricates from whole cloth an excuse for Boxer's boorishness.
It seems like Chris Matthews is the real sideshow here.