I knew I was in the wrong business. Why didn’t I have the foresight to become a historian?
You might be thinking the same, along with millions of others in the wake of the discovery that Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was paid some very big bucks (word is, more than $1.5 million) as a consulting historian by the mammoth mortgage purchaser and re-seller, Freddie Mac. (Gingrich’s campaign staff is reported to be investigating exactly how much he got for the gig. Perhaps he should check with his account
A fellow Georgian who served as speaker of the U.S. House from 1995 to 1999 and was a 20-year member of Congress, Gingrich said the loan practices followed by the quasi-government agency were historically “insane.” No, what’s insane is that I have struggled to make a living as a lowly reporter and didn’t realize more than 40 years ago how much money could be made as a historian.
I bet even some of you doctors and lawyers are rethinking your own careers. Wouldn’t consulting historian have been an easier path to millionaire status than all those years spent looking under microscopes or studying the Constitution? Wouldn’t banker’s hours as a historian been a better life than all those 6 a.m. surgeries or hours traveling between courthouses? And if you were cagey enough like Newt to get yourself elected Speaker of the U.S. House, the pathway would have been totally painless.
During the GOP candidates’ debate on Nov. 9, Gingrich said that, as a historian, he “offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do.” I wish he had advised me four decades ago what I didn’t do and should have done — become a historian.
He added these million-dollar words at the recent debate: “My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.’ As I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.”
A few former Freddie Mac officials have disputed Gingrich’s role as a historian; they say he’s an out-and-out lobbyist, “registered or not.” Gingrich, who once taught history at West Georgia College in Carrollton, disputes that claim. He has spent a lot of time lately disputing news reports of one sort or another.
I know about lobbyists. Mainly
I know that they make thousands
upon thousands of dollars at the
state government level and millions working Capital Hill in Washington.
I know a few who have excelled in that field, including one who ultimately
became governor of a southern state and was believed himself to be considering a run for president. Why didn’t
I leave the reporting game years ago and join their ranks? Insanity, I suppose.
I wonder what age is considered too old to go back to school and learn the history game. If I’m too much of a geezer for that, perhaps I can be a pizza mogul. Then I can run for president.
Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.