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Cochran: The leader our founders envisioned

Back in 1995, I was working for the Meridian Star and keeping up with Naval Station Meridian’s potential fate during that year’s round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s hearings.

It was about 9 p.m. and I was wrapping up my latest article on BRAC when my phone rang.

When I picked it up, the voice on the other end said, “Somebody’s working late.”

It was Thad Cochran returning a phone call I made to his office earlier in the day. Since that day, I’ve always had special respect for Sen. Cochran. He could have done like a lot of other senators and Navy Department heads I contacted during my coverage of BRAC and turned my call over to an aide, but he took it upon himself to call me personally and give me his comments on whatever was going on with the Commission.

I’ve been working as a journalist in Mississippi for 25 years, and I can’t recall a time when I called Sen. Cochran’s office for something and didn’t receive an immediate response, either from an aide or from him. But then I will say I had a good relationship with other former members of the state’s Congressional Delegation — Sen. Trent Lott, and Reps. Sonny Montgomery and Gene Taylor.

I have to agree with a comment I heard while watching some coverage of the senator’s funeral that Thad Cochran was an example of what the Senate should be, not what it ought to be.

Like Sonny Montgomery, whom I got to know very well, Sen. Cochran was one of the last of what I’ve called “gentlemen politicians.” He was willing to listen to others, willing to cross the aisle to meet and talk with other senators. He represented Mississippi well, and as a former Coast resident who suffered through Hurricane Katrina and the recovery, I will always be indebted to him for working to help get assistance to rebuild.

I read once that when the Founding Fathers established the three levels of government, the Senate was seen as the conscience of the federal government. A body that would deliberate and take a long look at the issues and vote on what was good for the country. It was to serve as a balance; the bulwark against the House of Representatives, which listened to popular opinion, and what was truly good for the country.

Thad Cochran was the type of senator our founders envisioned. Someone who was willing to listen, deliberate and help reach a consensus on what was best for the country. In these days of partisan, nasty politics and the adversarial atmosphere in Washington, his type of senator is needed.

Sen. Cochran was one of the last of those senators still in Washington, and the others like him are slowly leaving government, either by retiring or by death, and many of the people replacing them aren’t of the same caliber, and that’s a tragedy.

Thad Cochran and others like him will be missed.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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