We haven't reached into the TPM mailbag for a while -- but this note from Reader JK
caught my eye, in light of today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:
I'm extremely tired of the Republican affectation of referring to the Attorney General as "General" Ashcroft and "General" Gonzales. Republican Senators, especially on the Judiciary Committee, have frequently used this pompous and incorrect usage. Senators Hatch and Cornyn are frequent offenders.
As far as I am aware, there is no military rank or historical military connection associated with the office of Attorney General. The Attorney General is an attorney. He is not a general. The word "general" in the title "Attorney General" is an adjective, not a noun.
A quick bit of googling confirmed it: people repeatedly refer to the Attorney General as "general." But the practice isn't limited to Republicans, JK
. Sure, White House spokespeople are guilty -- Dan Bartlett's done
it, and Trent Duffy also
But Democrats have, too. Here
's Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) addressing a letter to "General Gonzales." And here's Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) doing
So what's the right way to address the attorney general? I asked the Justice Department -- and got an authoritative reply, courtesy of Amy the Justice Intern:
The appropriate titles for the Attorney General would be either "Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales" or "Attorney General Gonzales." I have been advised that "Mr. Gonzales," or "General Gonzales," or "Gonzales" would not be the way to refer to the Attorney General.
So there it is -- no more "general" for you, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. You've had more than enough already.