Congresswoman Martha McSally, Republican, Second Congressional District, AZ
Not many out there, especially members of the United States Congress, who can say they got to the first “real” job they had by taking the dinghy tied up on the pond behind the house – because of being too young to drive — cross the pond to the small waterway connecting to the Atlantic Ocean, rowing up the beach a bit and slip into the spot on the pier behind the beachside diner where she bussed tables for the fishermen. And at quitting time she’d “drive” the dingy to the family home in Rhode Island on the pond.
That’s exactly how Congresswoman Martha McSally got to work as an adolescent, long before she graduated to being the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat in the United States history – all while flying the A-10 Warthog. Yes; Warthog.
Clark H. Caras – “Ok. I’ve asked a lot of people in my years of journalism and public relations, what their first job was. And Congresswoman. You hands down are the winner! A dingy, seriously?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Yes, a dingy. I’d always leave in the dark and to get out on the water there was this narrow bridge I had to go thru. And depending on the season the tide was in or out and if I was pushed by a tailwind I could hit the rocks. My dad though had taught me how to maneuver that boat.”
Clark H. Caras – “From maneuvering a dingy, to first woman to fly in combat. And now a member of Congress. How does dad feel about all of that?”
Congresswoman McSally – “We lost dad when I was 12-years old.” Caras – “I’m very sorry.” Rep. McSally – “Thank you. Relationships are very important to me. Before dad passed he told me to make him proud. Dad was in the Navy before I was born and he used his service as his ticket to college.”
Clark H. Caras – “So if I don’t ask it, I’m going to regret it. Combat missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and flying out of Saudi Arabia…and now Congress. What’s the hardest and the differences between them?”
Congresswoman McSally – “With Congress the intensity of the schedule – people would be surprised at it. Of how you literally schedule your day in five-minute increments. I was surprised by it (Congress) for a while. Of how I was hardly having time to meet and get to know those on my side of the isle, let alone the other side.”
Clark H. Caras – “So how have you been able to remedy it, or have you?”
Congresswoman McSally – “One of the problems is having time to engage and listen to each other. My training in the Air Force helped in this because I was taught to adjust and do it quickly. So you’ll find me playing in a charity football game with my Republican colleagues. No better way to get to know each other than doing it for a good cause.”
Clark H. Caras – “Any other ways you have put into action anything to get to know members on both sides of the isle?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Every morning I workout with a bi-partisan workout group. And I was able to put together an all female CODEL (Congressional Delegation) around Mothers Day. We traveled to Afghanistan, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland.
As I explained. Relationships do matter. You are more likely to get someone to support you with an issue if they know you.”
Clark H. Caras – “You have flown in combat on campaigns throughout the Middle East. How do those compare with the political campaigns?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Ever since my dad said to make him proud I’ve realized I have a passion for making a difference. We are stewards of our own time. The military helped me learn to be light on my feet, which I find is necessary on the political campaign. And in either of the campaigns, you have to be a good decision maker. Especially important in military or political campaign – allow people to thrive. And I don’t think it has to be said in military and political there has to be a strategy.”
Clark H. Caras – “What is it that full Colonel and Congresswoman McSally is reading?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Well, right now I’m reading a few different books. ‘The Power of Habit: Why We DoWhat We Do in Life’ by Charles Duhigg was recommended by a mentor of mine. Another is ‘Champagne for the Soul’ by Mike Mason. It has a spiritual slant to it and is about regaining your joy.”
In an almost pensive and very thoughtful voice, the Congresswoman almost whispered, “Could use some of that right now in this job.”
Clark H. Caras – “You’re A-10 Warthog has been ‘trending’ in the news lately. First it was to be scraped and it’s been brought back to life, so to speak…”
Without my finishing the question, Congresswoman McSally – “It is so important to keep this airplane flying. So proud of what we’ve been able to do here. I’ve seen what this plane can do. It has saved lives and is a strategic component to our arsenal in air power.
I know what this plan can accomplish. In combat, search and rescue. I know what this plane brings to the fight.”
Clark H. Caras – “Do you believe one person can make a difference?”
Congresswoman McSally – “No question. Look at Rosa Parks who did it by inspiring change. I’ve seen it in my own life by standing up to the Pentagon about wearing religious garb that was a 700 year old tradition. Not ours as soldiers who’d come to fight and protect it for them.”
In 2001 Rep. McSally challenged a Pentagon policy requiring servicewomen to wear Muslim garb when traveling off-base. It took her battling for eight years to get the policy changed and see legislation ending the requirement signed by the President.
Congresswoman McSally – “People told me I was destroying my career. One person can make that difference. I was there wearing that uniform for our country. My favorite t-shirt is one I picked up at the Rosa Parks Museum. It reads, ‘Women who behave rarely make history.’”
Clark H. Caras – “What’s the last movie you saw?”
Councilwoman McSally – “The Shack,’ You’d enjoy it.”
Clark H. Caras – “What’s trending shapes this one. If they do a remake of ‘Top Gun,’ will you see it?”
Congresswoman McSally – “No. It’s Navy.” Nothing against seeing it, but it’s like a doctor watching a medical movie. They criticize it all the way through. That’s probably what I’d be doing. But yes, they make another and I’d see it. Want to know my favorite movie of all time?”
Clark H. Caras – “Definitely!”
Congresswoman McSally – “Braveheart! It’s about sticking up for something and make a difference…even if it costs you.”
Clark H. Caras – “Congress. Congresswoman. Is there politics in your family?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Not really. I had an uncle who was mayor of Scranton, Rhode Island. Then he ran for governor, but got beat. Oh, and my dad. Dad was the chairman of the school committee.”
Clark H. Caras – “Do you encounter people who look right past your service to our country in the Air Force and Congress?”
Congresswoman McSally – “Being a woman in the military prepared me for the campaigns and the ones who don’t like me here. In both, I had to learn to compartmentalize so I could sleep at night. I’ve learned to develop a thick skin.
In life I had to learn to do things afraid. To twist thru any fear – to do things afraid. I can take off in this A-10. I might be afraid wondering what we’ll encounter on the mission, but I can do it.”
Clark H. Caras – “Thank you for sharing valuable time with Candidates.vote Congresswoman.”
By Clark H. Caras