Rich Galen

In late February 2008 I joined GOPAC as its executive director at the request of Speaker Newt Gingrich. GOPAC was held in fairly low regard by the national political media and one of my assignments was to improve the relationship between GOPAC and the press.

I talked with the chairman of the board, Shelly Kamins, about writing a regular column based upon the irregular columns I had written as the communications director for the Speaker's political office which had been called, "Talking Points."

Hence, the bullet-point format of MULLINGS.

Shelly thought it would be worth the try so on March 11, 1998 a re-named column - MULLINGS - was faxed out to 200-or-so reporters on GOPAC's press list.

The concept of the "blast fax," by which a fax was sent to a service which they then "blasted" out to whatever list you had provided, has gone the way of the slide rule.

In 1998 the notion of e-mail being ubiquitous was unheard of - if not unthought of.

MULLINGS was a made-up name based upon my long-held theory that no person in regular conversation uses the verb "to mull." No one, for instance, has ever said to his or her spouse: "Honey, I'm mulling over whether we should have Chinese or Italian tonight."

Associated Press headling writers, on the other hand, use it all the time: "Bush Mulls Budget Cuts."

For several years the MULLINGS header contained the two definitions I had adopted:

Mull v. (1) to consider; to ponder. (2) to add spice as to wine or cider

The earliest MULLINGS were less than 500 words each, a length which was necessary because back in the day it cost - as I remember - twenty-five cents per page to use the blast fax service so I was very careful to keep the copy to less than 500 words which would fit on one page. Even an extra line on a second page was an additional 25¢ per recipient which got pretty expensive pretty quickly.

There have been several gaps in production over the years. Just a month after I started at GOPAC and began MULLINGS, I had cardiac bypass surgery which cost about six weeks of output. Then in 2009, after Newt had left the House (and GOPAC) the new masters decided that MULLINGS was too edgy so I stopped writing the column until I left GOPAC and restarted MULLINGS as a for-profit operation.

The next big gap was during the Iraq tour of duty. If you work for the Federal government you can write or speak for pay, but you cannot get paid for writing or speaking about what they are already paying you to do.


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 Mullings.com.