turkey, I said to myself over the Thanksgiving Weekend, reading the
latest revelations about the morality-free zone known as Newt Gingrich,
the latest hot horse in the Republican Debacle Derby of 2012.
We always knew that Newt was first in philandering and adultery in
the Party of Family Values, before being challenged by Herman "The Pizza
Man" Cain, who denied denied denied inappropriate behavior until
finally suspending his campaign on Saturday.
We always knew Newt was the poster boy for shady practices such as
lobbying while denying his role as a lobbyist. He only serves as "a visionary,"
according to The New York Times. Newt was a source of inspiration to
every American boy who someday wanted to grow up and use public service
as an ATM machine.
But what made me choke on the leftover oyster stuffing was his compensation package for services rendered. For giving Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) his "advice as a historian," he explained, he was paid $300,000.
That's understandable. What with his credit card bills from Tiffany's
and paying off his college student loans. It turned out the former
House leader had rounded off the figure a bit. According to Bloomberg
News, he actually had earned closer to $1.8 million from Freddie Mac.
As Robert Walpole said in 1689 or 1670, "Every man has his price."
Apparently, Newt's was between $300,000 and $1.8 million. Not bad for
For that kind of money, I know a lot of historians who would be
willing to help banks, hedge funds, drug companies, and other
history-challenged institutions. To name one at random, in all modesty, I
My CV includes several books about the founding fathers, including The Making of the Prefident 1789, the story of how the Mount Vernon machine engineered our nation's first election. I am also the only living co-author of George Washington's Expense Account
by Washington and Marvin Kitman, PFC (Ret.). The book tells the story
of Washington's expense account during the eight years (1775-1783)
during the war against British tyranny. My credentials also include
numerous appearances as a visiting scholar on the History Channel and on
I like Newt's business plan, as described in his work for Freddie
Mac: Tell them what they want to hear. Advise them on building
opportunities for the poor to learn how to be non-poor by buying a house, then tell them the opposite when they wanted to hear the opposite (stop those "insane loans").
I am setting up a historical consulting service that could tell
clients what they wanted to hear until they wanted something else. We at
Kitman Services, the startup's name, call it flexibility, while others
call it hypocrisy.
Let's talk turkey. What could Kitman Services do for any
too-big-to-fail bank, hedge fund, or venture capitalist trying to tap
into some of that corrupt crony Obama federal stimulus money?
Well, I would tell them about the experience of the company
developing the super information highway of its day, the
transcontinental railroad. Union Pacific executives came up with a great
business plan: there was more money to be made in building the railroad
than actually running it. To ensure the necessary legislation needed to
provide the flow of taxpayer money, a subsidiary named Credit Moblier
gifted stocks and bonds to Congressional and administrative leaders.
And as a public service, they cashed them out at par. This wasn't
bribery being practiced during the Republican administration of
Presidents Grant and Hayes, just good business at the time. Early forms
of corporate contribution to campaigns, before the age of the Super PAC.
And it did provide jobsjobsjobs, even though in gratitude, many rail
builders later had immigration problems (see the Chinese Exclusion Act
There is a lot of wiggle room in that page of history for any smart client seeking advice and guidance from a historian.
Kitman Services fees will be negotiated based on the complex economic
principle: all the traffic will bear. And confidentially is guaranteed,
using the Gingrich model. Until caught,
as columnist Michael Winship has written: "He hadn't bothered to
mention his own involvement, even as he attacked Barney Frank and others
for taking Freddie Mac's campaign contributions."