Column-writing is hard work.
So it follows that from time to time I pull out that file and see what is there.
For example, I could comment on a piece by my favorite conservative columnist, David Brooks of The New York Times, who crunched numbers, did some analysis and concluded that the rise of talk jocks like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh "has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the GOP."
But everybody knows that.
More fun is to be had messing with my old buddy, Newt Gingrich. (Yes, I knew him back in Georgia when he was teaching instead of lecturing, wearing khaki and corduroy instead of high-priced suits, and only dreaming of worlds he would conquer.) Newt, bless his heart, has a difficult time keeping on task, in part because his mind runs in so many directions, but also because the diverse and often competing forces he unleashes are difficult to control.
For instance, American Solutions, Gingrich's own think tank, last month named Dawn Rizos of Dallas one of its "2009 Entrepreneurs of the Year," and invited her to Washington's exclusive Capitol City Club to accept the award.
Upon getting the news, Rizos wrote a check for $5,000 to join the former speaker's Business Defense and Advisory Council, for which Gingrich thanked her and added, "I look forward to meeting you and hearing more about your business."
Or, at least, he did until someone pointed out that Rizos' business is The Lodge, which, according to its Web site, is "the No. 1 Gentlemen's Club in America."
Yessir, Ole Newt was giving an award to a topless bar.
See the problem?
From the standpoint of pure capitalism, The Lodge is a model of entrepreneurial enterprise. Here is a business that pumps (and bumps and grinds) more than $2 million in annual tax revenue into city and state coffers. It has given more than $160,000 to charities, offers college scholarships (yes, the third one from the left, she is a physics major at the University of Texas-Dallas) and conducts money management seminars for its 150 employees and more than 500 contract dancers.
But on the other hand, those dancers dance without their shirts on.
What to do, what to do?
Especially when you consider that no small part of Newt's loyal following are conservative Christians who don't approve of this sorta thing.
You go with your base.
So, a few days after the discovery someone from American Solutions called Rizos, took back the award and promised to refund her money.
An American solution to an American problem.
Some folks have speculated that the Gingrich organization confused the Texas establishment with one by the same name in Virginia. Maybe so. But this wasn't the first time American Solutions had been caught in such a situation.
A few weeks before the invitation-to and take-back from Rizos, American Solutions rescinded a similar invitation that had been extended to Pink Visual, an adult film production and distribution company.
Now, how many "Pink Visuals" do you think there are?
One. There are a bunch of Web sites, but all belong to the same company. And the name? What could American Solutions have been thinking?
Surely, the old "check before you invite" memo went out.
But maybe what you have here is a conflict within the Gingrich movement that, in a nutshell, exposes one of the problems the GOP faces today. For many in the party, business is about making money. As long as it is legal, do it. Not only is The Lodge legal, it is a good corporate citizen to boot. So why shouldn't the person who created the "No. 1 Gentleman's Club" in the whole by-gum United States be recognized for what she has accomplished?
As for Pink Visual, though the sleaze factor is greater here, the company lets you know up front that it is selling "sexually explicit videos which may be offensive to some viewers," so what's the harm?
The harm, of course, is to the movement Newt is trying to form and lead, and, ultimately, to the unity of the GOP. On one hand, you have those who want to turn capitalism loose and let the buyer judge (and beware). On the other side are those who are all for the free market as long as it is not free to do things that are done by Pink Visual and at The Lodge. More additions to the list likely will come later.
But did you hear anything about this on Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly and Limbaugh?
Which may be a problem, as well.
Harvey H. ("Hardy") Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.