Gentleman Thad: You’ve done Mississippi proud

Senator Thad Cochran has been a true friend to U.S. agriculture, at a time when true friends have become scarcer and scarcer as Congress has become more urban and distanced from the farms that sustain us.

Gee, will he ever be missed, the quiet, courtly, gentlemen from Mississippi, who is the tenth longest-serving Senator in history, and who personifies statesmanship in an era when there are so few statesmen left in a partisan, dog-eat-dog Congress.

Thad Cochran’s announcement that he will retire April 1 was not entirely unexpected, given the health issues of the past year or so, but Mississippians, for whom he has worked tirelessly during his decades of public service, and U.S. agriculture, for whom he has been a true friend when true friends have become scarcer and scarcer as Congress has become more urban and distanced from the farms that sustain us, were hoping he’d be able to hang on a bit longer.

“I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle,” he said in his announcement.Thad Cochran

Since ascending to the Senate in 1978, following three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has done what any member of Congress should do: look out for the best interests of the people of his state, and at the same time support measures and programs that serve all the citizens of this great country.

“Thad knows there’s a big difference between making a fuss and making a difference,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The people of Mississippi — and our whole nation — have benefited from his steady determination to do the latter.”

In gratitude, Mississippians re-elected him and re-elected him, helping him to gain the seniority that confers power in an environment where power is important. He could pick up the phone and be put through to those in Washington who pulled the strings of government to get things done. His chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee placed him in one of the most powerful positions in government, helping decide on what, and how many, tax dollars will be expended.

“Thad knows there’s a big difference between making a fuss and making a difference,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The people of Mississippi — and our whole nation — have benefited from his steady determination to do the latter.”

Known as “Gentleman Thad” to his colleagues, he was labeled “The Quiet Persuader” by Time magazine, a nod to his ability to get things done by working both sides of the aisle, a skill that channeled his long-serving Mississippi predecessors in Congress, John Stennis, Jamie Whitten, Sonny Montgomery.

Thad Cochran was never the limelight seeker — he just quietly, professionally did the job he was elected to do: serve the people of his state, and the nation, to the best of his ability. “I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interests of our nation, and my beloved state,” he said in his retirement statement. 

Mississippi's governor will appoint someone to fill the post temporarily until a special election this fall will choose someone for a full term. Whoever is chosen to replace him will have awfully big shoes to fill. However much they may promise on the campaign trail, however high-flown the rhetoric, it’s not easy for a newbie to accomplish things, particularly in the contentious, us-versus-them Congress of today. And seniority and power are acquired ever so slowly.

 

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