Cochran clears way for Mabus confirmation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 3, 2009


Consider the introduction last week by Sen. Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican, of former Gov. Ray Mabus, a Democrat. Mabus was appearing before the Senate as President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy.

After listing Mabus’ summa cum laude degree from Ole Miss and magna cum laude degree from Harvard, his service as state auditor, governor and as ambassador to Saudi Arabia as an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Cochran said this:

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“I know that (he) will bring to this job the same high level of energy and skill that has been the hallmark of his career throughout the many responsibilities of public service that he has held.  His academic credentials, his record of distinguished service to the State of Mississippi and to our country has been exemplary.  His integrity and judgment will also serve him well …. I commend President Obama for nominating him, and I look forward to working with him in this new capacity.”

Mabus’ introduction by a person from the other side of our nation’s great political divide came after a rather searing examination in The New York Times of the divorce case between Mabus and his former wife, Julie. The Times suggested the divorce, which was bitter and involved lengthy litigation, cast a shadow over the nomination. Had he chosen the path of pure partisanship, Cochran, no hero in The Times’ view, could have exploited that shadow. Instead, he removed it. That’s class.

Mabus served two years in the Navy, but the appointment for which he is sure to be confirmed is a civilian job. It has nothing to do with military tactics or strategies. The secretary is an “enabler,” directing recruiting, supplying, equipping, training and mobilizing operations for the Navy and Marine Corps. Another job is to manage the building, equipping, supply and repair of naval ships and bases. The secretary carries a mighty checkbook, which doesn’t bode ill for his native state.

Mabus campaigned hard for Obama in Mississippi and earned the appointment, for which he is fully qualified.

One other point: Several men (there’s only been one woman) who have been Secretary of the Navy have gone on to serve in the Senate. John Chafee, John Warner and Jim Webb are three. Perhaps, in the future, there will be another. Cochran is in what may well be his last term. Here’s hoping whoever follows him has the character and integrity that “Thad” never fails to show.