Newt Gingrich should really take a lesson from Tim Pawlenty on the climate-change walkback. Since last year, Pawlenty has admitted that his support for cap-and-trade policies was a “clunker” on his record and apologized repeatedly for the mistake. Today, Newt Gingrich had an opportunity to atone for his own flirtation on anthropogenic climate change, and did — sort of. When asked by WGIR’s Paul Westcott whether he regretted his notorious ad pushing for a government policy response to AGW, Newt said he did, but only because people “misconstrued” his attempts to start a debate:
WESTCOTT: Mr. Speaker, we only have about 10 seconds left. I just want to ask you a question from our Facebook fan page. Do you regret that — doing that global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi?
GINGRICH: Oh, sure. Look, I was, I was trying to make a point that we shouldn’t be afraid to debate the Left, even on the environment, that was obviously misconstrued, and that’s one of the things I probably wouldn’t do again.
“Misconstrued”? This looks like a typical Beltway non-apology apology along the lines of “I’m sorry you didn’t comprehend my genius.” Gingrich didn’t debate Pelosi; he made an ad calling for action now on AGW — an ad that was sponsored by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.
Let’s take a look at the ad again, and see what exactly Gingrich said:
PELOSI: Hi! I’m Nancy Pelosi, life-long Democrat and Speaker of the House.
GINGRICH: And I’m Newt Gingrich, life-long Republican and I used to be Speaker of the House.
PELOSI: We don’t always see eye to eye, do we Newt?
GINGRICH: No, but we do agree: our country must take action to address climate change.
PELOSI: We need cleaner forms of energy, and we need them fast.
GINGRICH: If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation we need.
PELOSI: Go to WeCanSolveIt.org. Together, we can do this.
Er, I don’t see anything in here that challenges Pelosi to a debate on the merits of AGW hypotheses. What I see is Gingrich insisting that people demand government action on climate change, and partnering with Pelosi to do so. People haven’t “misconstrued” anything about this ad.
If Gingrich has truly changed his mind about AGW and government intervention, then he needs to admit he was wrong and explain his conversion (as Pawlenty did). Apparently, Gingrich can’t admit he was wrong, or is simply dissembling on the subject now to return to it later. Either way, blaming the albatross he hung around his own neck on the people who watched and clearly understood the message in the ad is hardly a recommendation for Gingrich’s leadership in the future.