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Brothers in arms

"Brothers in arms" Continued...

Issue: "NextGen worship," July 26, 2008

The reality is we're not going to get away with that much longer. Social Security was never meant to be an entitlement. It's like insurance on a car, you don't get it back. A certain amount is to insure you from loss. People who are in Florida making $200,000 on bond income do not deserve Social Security and Medicare. Obama's right on this. We take Social Security taxes out of $101,000. Obama wants to raise that to $190,000. That's probably a common ground solution that can survive.

THOMAS: Right. Giving more money to the government is like giving more blood to Dracula. It just encourages him. Cut the spending.

BECKEL: You can't cut Social Security entitlement because it's viewed as an entitlement.

THOMAS: Social Security ought to go back to its original purpose. They've added so many things on to it that it's a crushing burden.

WORLD: When should we compromise and when should we stand up for principles, even if the result is a battle?

THOMAS: A real statesman recognizes that our enemy is not the other political party. Our enemy is the people who want to take away our freedom, like the Taliban. Freedom is not a natural state-otherwise, everybody would be free. Oppression and dictatorship, discrimination against women, keeping people down, that seems to be the natural state because that's what characterizes a lot of the world under different regimes, some religious, some pagan like the communists. They want power at the top and they want everybody else to be subservient to them.

WORLD: Is our tendency today to emphasize differences rather than similarities-and if so, why?

THOMAS: You can't ever agree with someone on the other party because then you're likely to be seen as a wimpy, surrender monkey, white-flag waving, left-wing secular humanist, ACLU type, or a right-wing Bible-banger, imposer-of-religion type. On a lot of cable television we've both called into news shows and been turned down. If we ask why, we're told, "We want somebody edgier." They want screamers. They want people putting the other person down. They don't want legitimate conversation and real common ground and that's the kind of thing we face now.

BECKEL: I used to direct Crossfire, take gasoline, and throw it into the middle of the table all the time. Cal was with the Moral Majority and he would do the same thing. I used to be able to lie with the best of them. I was so good at lying, except as I got older I couldn't remember all of my lies. . . . Now, were there ethical lapses on my part? Yes.

WORLD: How often did such lapses occur?

BECKEL: Before I had faith? Brother, in every aspect of my life. I'm a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and I can tell you parts I remember of what I did. But there were many times-I took a date once-

THOMAS: Let's not get too specific.

BECKEL: No, no. I took a date once, asked her if she had a passport, and took her out to Dulles airport and bought roundtrip tickets on the Concorde. It cost me $8,000. Flew to London for a weekend and I don't remember much of it at all except for the bill. So, my lapses were fairly significant. I can say this, in the last six or seven years since I have come to faith it's much more difficult for me to do those things because it haunts me all the time. The Spirit literally gets into my head and drives me nuts until I either get down and confess my sins or I go back and make amends on it.

WORLD: So, how did you come to faith?

BECKEL: I was in the process of getting divorced. I was married to a professional golfer. You don't know fear until you see a five iron in the hands of a professional golfer at two in the morning. It's a scary thing. I had a lot of difficulties. I had retreated to a farm in rural Maryland and refused to come back to Washington to do any television appearances. I got a call one day from Fox saying, would you come and do an appearance with Cal Thomas? And for some inexplicable reason, I said yes. Five different times I tried to call and cancel. And I couldn't cancel.

I reluctantly drove in and there was Cal. I knew him a bit, but not really well. He looks at me and says, "Is there something wrong?" Right away. Instead of saying the normal Washington thing-"Good. Fine. Great"-I said, "Actually it's not." And he said, "Let's talk about it after we've done the show." He spent many hours with me after that and talked about faith but never pushed faith on me. He sent me a lot of books. I was one of those people who needed to have proof. I needed to see skin and bones. The idea of whales and arks and burning bushes and opening seas-all that was just in my mind Charlton Heston.

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