Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, 65, talks inauguration advice for the new president, members’ boycott of Friday’s event, and what’s on his reading list.
Q: What’s your take on the political climate and boycotting surrounding the inauguration?
A: I guess it’s to be expected in this day and age, but it’s disappointing.
I have a number of friends who are on that list. I’m disappointed in them. I’ve been disappointed in friends before. This is Washington. But I just wish they hadn’t done it.
I don’t remember anybody — even during all the talk about the birth certificate — refusing to go to President Obama’s inauguration. I’ve been to them all, and honestly, I’ve been to every State of the Union.
Sometimes, all of these duties become tedious and sometimes, I’d rather just watch the State of the Union at home in my pajamas. But I always go, regardless of who the president is, because I think it’s my duty.
But I always do and I wouldn’t think of missing such a profound moment and that is when we show to the rest of the world the way to do an orderly transfer of power.
The process works and we accept that and we are a shining example to the rest of the world. And, it will be a thrill. My 92-year-old dad’s flying up tomorrow night to see his first inauguration ever.
Q: What advice would you give Trump about how to take in Friday?
A: I read in yesterday’s Northeast Mississippi [Daily] Journal an account of the inauguration parade in 1989, which was the last time the Tupelo High School marching band attended an inauguration.
One member remembers taking his eyes off the drum major and looking up in the stands and seeing the president waving at the band. Another remembers looking up and seeing the president had his back turned, chatting with someone. Both stories couldn’t be accurate because it was the same band.
So, I guess my advice would be to realize that there are a lot of average folks for whom this will be a lasting, decades-long, lifetime memory.
I would like to think the story of the president watching and waving was the true story.
Editor’s Note: In 1969, Wicker was in the parade on the vehicle that pulled the Mississippi float.
Q: What did you originally want to do as a political science and journalism major at the University of Mississippi?
A: I think I’m living my American dream.
I wanted to be a lawyer and the opportunities presented themselves. I had hoped for an opportunity to be in public service. I joined the Air Force and I attended Ole Miss on an ROTC scholarship. So, I was in the Air Force for four years as a judge advocate, then I came up here right after that for two years on Congressman [Trent] Lott’s staff. I was in student government and my dad was a state senator and a judge. I’ve been in a family and around people who were engaged in public service.
Q: I hear you’re an avid reader. What are you currently reading?
A: I’m reading “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. It was a Christmas gift from my first cousin. For serious stuff, I’m reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book “Heretic.”
Q: You’re an avid swimmer. When do you find time?
A: You just have to. I belong to a number of clubs on the Hill and in Mississippi, including one in Jackson and one in Tupelo and one in Oxford. So, when you move around the state, you have to have various places. But that’s what I do.
I used to run but my cartilage gave way.