Rich Galen

Another good thing about getting old, is you get invited to speak to people who believe (however incorrectly) that because you've been doing something for a long time, you must have some idea what you are talking about.

The illogic of that notwithstanding, I am on Maryland's Eastern Shore with the US House Republicans to talk about dealing with the press now that they are in the Minority and don't get to call hearings, issue subpoenas, and bring legislation to the floor.

Only about 60 Republicans now in the House ever served in the Minority prior to this year. The overwhelming number of current Republicans in attendance have now spent exactly 22 days in the minority and have only known Majority status.

The natural reaction to being in the Minority is, metaphorically, to cross your arms, stick out your lower lip, and threaten to hold your breath and turn blue if you don't get what you want.

Unlike the US Senate where just about any Senator - Democrat or Republican - can stop just about any action on just about any topic by doing just that; in the House, if you've got one less vote than the other guy, you are going to spend a lot of time turning blue and no one will much care.

Yesterday, the luncheon speaker was Newt Gingrich who did his Newt Gingrich act. If you've never seen it - you should go to one of his lectures. It's very different from what you think it will be.

Gingrich tried to tell the Republican Members not to fall into the trap of thinking like a Minority; focusing on trying to, in effect, change a comma to a semicolon in a large bill and being satisfied - not in getting the comma changed - but in having put up a really good fight in defeat of the semicolon initiative.

It is an easy trap to fall into - especially when you are in the Minority and don't get to set the legislative agenda.

About which, Newt urged the Republican Members to "create an alternative agenda every day. Not a Republican or a Conservative alternative, but an American alternative."

Gingrich said having good ideas are not enough if they don't lead to anything. "People find ideas interesting," he said. "They find solutions useful."

When I have my turn this morning, I'm going to quote that other great American philosopher, the head coach of the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs who, after a dismal season, said to Washington Post sports columnist, Tom Boswell: "You ask yourself: 'How did I get here? How do I get back? And how do I learn from this?' You have to face where you are. Don't be blind to the truth. Otherwise, you can't fix it."

Republicans got here by losing their sense of purpose which led to losing control of the Congress.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at