National columnist Cal Thomas spoke on a wide range of topics in less than 30 minutes – term limits, regulations, professional politicians, Generation Z, American’s most recent presidents and Calvin Coolidge – at the Lake Houston Chamber’s annual Focus on the Federal Government luncheon held Aug. 27 at Walden on Lake Houston Golf and Country Club.
Luncheon guests could be seen leaning forward from their chairs, listening to Thomas speak in his rapid-fire, almost rap-like style. And there was no doubt about his likes and dislikes. He supports term limits, firmly believing that if trash can be recycled, Congress ought to be, too.
“Get them out of politics before they get infected,” he said.
Thomas also told the group that politicians punish businesses with regulations; the “D.C.” in Washington, D.C. stands for “dysfunctional city;” and the newest generation, Generation Z, which was born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s, doesn’t care about values and God because they have no skin in the game and nothing is required of them.
Answering a question about his views on presidents he’s known, Thomas didn’t disappoint. He loves John Kennedy’s idea about the Peace Corp and sending our youngest and brightest overseas to work in other countries. He thinks Bill Clinton spoke best about race. Barack Obama, he said, missed a great opportunity to promote school choice. And Donald Trump, he said, believes it’s all about him when it really isn’t.
“All presidents are flawed,” he concluded.
Thomas recalled several extraordinary and moving events that he covered as a reporter, including Martin Luther King’s speech during the March on Washington and doing a live report for Channel 2 from NASA’s Mission Control.
If Thomas has a presidential hero, it is Coolidge. He quoted Coolidge extensively, including, “The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny.”
Thomas discussed his soon-to-be-published book, “America’s Expiration Date,” due next January, which offers a diagnosis of what is wrong with the United States, he says, by drawing parallels to once-great empires and nations that declined into oblivion.
“Empires seem to last for 250 years,” he said, “and we’ll reach that point in 2026. Now, I’m not saying the end is near, but we must invest in a new generation. Countries decline because of massive debt, a loss of a sense of God and immigration that does not assimilate into society.”
While the media and politicians focus on “… the big stuff,” Thomas says individuals should focus on the little things that make a difference.
“Tell your story,” he said. “Nothing succeeds like an example. People can see through hypocrisy. I don’t mind my tax money being used for positive things, lifting people up, if there is a positive goal.”
Chamber Chair Sam Schrade had his own story to tell at the conclusion of Thomas’ speech. Schrade brought Thomas to the luncheon, in part, because of his special relationship with the former reporter.
“In 1975, he did a report on 98 orphans that made a miraculous journey from war-torn Vietnam to Houston,” Schrade told the group. “At the end of his report, Cal told viewers that the orphans were up for adoption.”
Schrade was one of those orphans. His future parents saw the report, made the effort to adopt Sam and “… I hit the jackpot,” Schrade said. “I was adopted because of Cal. He made a difference in the lives of 98 people.”
Humble City Mayor Merle Aaron declared Aug. 27 as Cal Thomas Day in the City of Humble.
In his parting words as he left the podium, Thomas quipped, “More proof that the standards are falling, but thank you.”
The September luncheon will honor the everyday heroes who serve and protect Lake Houston at the chamber’s annual police officers and firefighters of the year luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m. at the Humble Civic Center. Register by calling 281-446-2128 or visit lakehouston.org.