“Mr. Reily, can you hold a moment for Sen. John McCain,” the voice on the other end of the phone said one day a few years ago.
“Um, yes ma’am,” I replied knowing full well the senator from Arizona was about to give me an earful about a story we had run that was critical of him being supportive of a bill that would help the cause of Vietnamese catfish being sold in the United States.
We generally wouldn’t have waded into the waters of national politics, but, in this instance, Sen. McCain’s bill was to be a blow to the Mississippi catfish industry.
“Yes sir, this is Ross Reily,” I said.
Sen. McCain proceeded to lay into me and our story on catfish. I’m not sure how long this went on. It seemed like forever. I tried to interject my opinion a couple of times, but to no avail. So, I just listened. He was never rude, never called me fake news and never used words you wouldn’t use in front of your grandmother. Sen. McCain just laid out his position.
“Ok, you had something to say,” he finally said.
“Oh, yes sir.”
I went into my position about the plight of the Mississippi catfish farmer and that as the Mississippi Business Journal, we couldn’t find our way to agree with his position.
“I understand, but I think we are going to have to agree to disagree,” Sen. McCain said.
I thanked him for calling and that was about it.
He thanked me for listening and ended the call with, “If you’re ever in Washington, give us a call. We would be happy to see you.”
Now, I can’t tell you I know John McCain or that we were friends at all. What I will say is that I respect him, his work, his amazing service to our country and his commitment to the greater good and service over self.
He is an American hero and in my only dealings with him, we had a basic difference of opinion. Having said that, he couldn’t have been more of a gentleman and I left our discussion with a better opinion of him because of how he treated me.
We should all hope that we do our jobs with as much dignity and honor as John McCain. And for the politicians of the world — from the local level to the highest office in the land — his model is one to follow.
Godspeed, Sen. McCain. You will be missed.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.
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