Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a military officer at the National Security Council, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, to appear before a House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform joint interview with the transcript to be part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Ten years ago, then Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made a memory politicos can’t forget. Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers appeared at a Senate committee hearing which Boxer chaired in June 2009. He addressed her as ma’am.
Boxer interrupted him and said, “Do me a favor, can 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. Thank you.”
Walsh immediately said, “Yes, senator,” and the meeting continued on without incident.
But that single statement was quickly heard around the world. Immediately, the sheer ridiculousness of her remark made it national news.
Today, during questioning by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had a similar moment of his own.
Nunes addressed Vindman as “Mr. Vindman.”
Vindman quickly corrected him. “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please.”
Rep. Devin Nunes refers to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as "Mr. Vindman."
— ABC News (@ABC) November 19, 2019
When it was Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R-UT) turn to question Vindman, he very respectfully thanked him for his service and told him about his own family’s military background. Then, he asked, “Very quickly, I’m curious, when ranking member Nunes referred to you as Mr. Vindman, you quickly corrected him and wanted to be called Lt. Col. Vindman. Do you always insist on civilians calling you by your rank?”
Vindman replied, “Representative Stewart. I’m in uniform wearing my military rank. I just thought it was appropriate to stick with that.”
Stewart said he just wanted Vindman to know that Nunes meant no disrespect. Vindman said, “I don’t believe he did, but the attacks that I’ve had in the press, um, in twitter, have kind of eliminated the fact that either marginalizing me as a military officer (inaudible).”
Just as it had for Barbara Boxer, the moment passed quickly, but it wasn’t lost on those watching the proceedings, particularly for those in the military.
Veteran and Richochet editor-in-chief Jon Gabriel “imagined it reminded a lot of enlisted people of officers they don’t really care for.” He tweeted that, “All enlisted people just rolled their eyes. We’ve all had to report to this guy.”
Here are some of the other reactions (via Twitchy):
Even officers rolled their eyes at this guy.
A good many officers as well, trust me. This is Frank Burns level.
Had a Lt. on our sub like this. His senior officers would regularly humiliate him in front of enlisted to take him down a notch. No one likes these guys.
I was an officer and I rolled my eyes. One’s rank isn’t an honorific. It’s a job. Scolding civilians for not referring to you by your rank is the opposite of what that job entails.
Also scolding a congress member is pretty bad form since they are elected officials and the military is subordinate to the elected government, we’ll specifically the president. I’ve spent a good amount of time on the hill and I’ve never seen a officer do this.
Officers expecting civilians to address them by their titles are wrong. Notice that when Rep. Maloney called him Mr. Vindman that he was silent.
In the Constitutional order, members of congress outrank members of the military. Regardless, it’s perfectly acceptable for Nunes to refer to Vindman as “Mr. Vindman,” just as it was for the general several years ago to refer to Barbara Boxer as “Ma’am.”
So apparently men can be Karens, too.
I once was threatened with being written up for having “insubordinate eyebrows” by pretty much this guy.
Anyone who insists of being called by rank in front of and by civilians is an absolute tool.
I was a back up for a witness in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in 1991. Sat behind him during the hearing. Requiring someone use your rank when they address you, even if its a Senator or Representative, or any civilian for that matter is wrong. This guy is a tool.
The person who always pulled rank when it was unnecessary was always the person who refused to admit wrongdoing. It was a sign of zero self-confidence but a massive ego. Saw it A LOT in young LTs who didn’t want to listen to the experienced NCO. A sign of bad leadership training.
I personally thought it was ridiculous. Since when do we ask civilians to refer to military personnel by their rank?
Multiple combat veterans have told me they are livid at this attitude from Vindman, at his use of the uniform as a prop for the cameras, and at his obvious scheming against and insubordination towards his chain of command.
Let’s say I was still on active duty. If I would have saluted him outside and said “good morning, sir” and he acknowledges, no big deal. We would carry on with our lives. If he would start yelling at me for not calling him the actual title, he’s a dick. No questions asked.
This moment is a pretty big insight into this guy. Jim Jordan had repeatedly referred to him as “Lt. Col. Vindman” and the one time that accidentally he referred to him as “Mr. Vindman” it pisses him off.
Nunes should have referred to him as Lt. Col., but this is extremely weird from Vindman. It screams entitlement.
— elPresidenteCastro (@elPresCastro) November 19, 2019