Last Friday, I hosted the Cabinet Secretaries Lunch at the famous Blair House. The Blair House is right across the street from the White House and provides overnight lodging for foreign leaders visiting the President and other high-level officials. It is a beautiful, prestigious setting for a luncheon.
We had a crowd with some sixty former Cabinet members and spouses. This holiday celebration dates back to the Ronald Reagan days. Our first lunch was in 1981, hosted by Marshall Coin at his Madison Hotel. He was able to get six of the Reagan Cabinet to attend, including yours truly. Also, Vice President Bush joined the small gathering. That small group, from one Cabinet, working for one President, has really grown.
We now have Cabinet members from both parties that worked for Presidents going back as far as Nixon and Ford. However, most of those attending served Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Obviously, it is not a political event. It is for fun. I have served as the Master of Ceremonies and leader of the group for the past 20 years. Agriculture was well-represented this year, as it always is, with Clayton Yeutter, Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, and Mike Espy in attendance. We had Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Defense, Secretaries of everything.
Every year, I ask each Cabinet member to make a prediction. We heard predictions about the economy. "It’s going in the tank." "It’s going to boom." Of course, the "fiscal cliff" was a timely issue. A lot of individuals had a prediction on that subject. More of them thought we would go over the cliff. I said we would go over the cliff. Then, we had some predicting – "Navy would beat Army," "Army would beat Navy." I am a West Point grad and got that one wrong again. I’ve been getting that wrong for 11 years. I said, "We won’t get a farm bill this year."
I reminded everyone about some of last year’s predictions and how wrong they were. One predicted last year, "Newt Gingrich will be our President-elect as we eat our lunch next year." Not even close.
There was a positive, up-beat attitude in that room. We all felt that if we were back in the Cabinet chairs, we would be able to solve the nation’s problems. We had a lot of advice for today’s decision makers.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.