Thursday, June 18, 2009

Your Humble Servant

U. S. Army Brigadier General Michael Walsh is the commanding general of the Mississippi Valley Division of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, having returned Stateside a year ago from a tour in Iraq where he served as the commanding general of the Persian Gulf Region of the Corps of Engineers. He began his army career after graduating from the Polytechnic Institute of New York with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He has also earned a master's degree in construction management from the University of Florida. He has served his country for some 32 years and has a chest full of decorations that reflect a bit of the nature of his service.

On Tuesday, June 16, BGen Walsh appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to testify about the post-Katrina restoration of the Louisiana coast. Take a look at this video of an exchange between BGen Walsh and Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

Senator Boxer was a stock broker for a Wall Street firm from 1962 to 1965. She then worked as a journalist with the Pacific Sun newspaper from 1972 to 1974 before serving as a congressional aide for two years from 1974 to 1976. She was a member of the Marin County (CA) Board of Supervisors for six years from 1977 to 1983. She was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1983 and served there for 10 years before winning election to the Senate in 1993. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Brooklyn College.

Whether Senator Boxer should be swinging the title the voters of California entrusted her with like a club is a matter for some debate maybe, but I don't see it. I would argue that the role the Framers of the Constitution had in mind for legislators was as servants of the people not as bullies of the people. Personally, I am irritated when I see some of our elected officials behave as demagogues and demigods and -goddesses and use their elected positions to push people around and degrade and humiliate them for their own gratification. I think it's just wrong.

For Senator Boxer to force the issue in that venue and in that tone was a gratuitously abusive, disproportionate, inappropriate, and disrespectful use of her power as a Senator.

I might not have been so out of sorts about this had she addressed him as "general" when she called him down, but in demanding an extra measure of deferential courtesy from him, she failed to extend him the same consideration. Clearly, he has earned it, whereas she has her position by the good graces (and dubious judgment) of the people of California.