Here's what Barbara Boxer had been telling:

"'You know, do me a favor,' a piqued Boxer said. 'Could say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?''

"'Yes, ma'am,' Walsh interjected.

"'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 responded.

Nothing is wrong with being addressed as "ma'am" as long as the way it is being said shows respect towards the person being addressed and Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh meant no disrespect towards the senator. Sen. Barbara Boxer is just so particular about what she had gone through to get her title. So much ego there is. So what if you're a senator?