Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gingrich Teams With Pelosi on Climate Change, Loses Credibility

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has teamed up with current Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make a global warming advertisment for Al Gore's change awareness campaign, via YouTube:

I've seen this ad a couple of times now, and the word "INCONGRUITY" just jumps out at me as a look at Pelosi flashing her big smile at Gingrich.

These people are intense partisans, and given the controversial science on climate change, I'm thinking, especially about Gingrich, the bomb-throwing conservative: "What the heck has gotten into this guy?"

It turns out Gingrich has gone centrist,
as the Fort Mill Times indicates:

Newt Gingrich says he wants to help Democrats. Really.

The former speaker of the House from Georgia who led the fiercely partisan Republican revolution in 1994 and once seemed to delight in firebombing Democrats with vicious verbal assaults is these days preaching a new breed of politics searching out the middle.

Gingrich just filmed a new environmental commercial with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He's back in Georgia this week pitching a platform of issues on which he says the vast majority of Americans agree. And he's shipped that list to Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee, as well as to Republicans.

"If you want the level of change that I think America has to have to remain the leading country in the world it can't be just Republican," Gingrich said in an interview with The Associated Press at an Atlanta restaurant.

"It's a red, white and blue strategy rather than a red versus blue strategy."

At one point Gingrich interrupts the interview to take a call on his cell phone. He's beaming when he hangs up.

"That was Al Gore," he said. The former Democratic vice president had called, he said, to thank him for the ad with Pelosi on behalf of Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection.

What's going on? Some suspect that the politically-astute Gingrich - who abruptly abandoned a possible run for president last fall - is laying the ground work for another White House bid in 2012.

Gingrich, who will turn 65 this summer, does not exactly deny this.

"If the bow wave of acceptance got large enough that it was inevitable I'd run," Gingrich said.

But for right now, he said, "I'm happy to be a citizen."

A citizen who, through his political think tank "American Solutions," is jockeying to be at the center of the debate over public policy.

A conversation with the former college professor can be dizzying. Within minutes he has tackled the woes of the crumbling city of Detroit, the rise in childhood diabetes, alcoholism on Sioux Indian reservations and the troubling rate of sexually transmitted diseases in teenage girls.

The unifying theme: "We are crippled by bad culture reinforced by bad government," he said.

True to form, Gingrich is espousing some controversial ideas to turn things around. He's intrigued by an effort to pay students to study, saying it would instill badly-needed study habits in poor students. He also thinks that child labor laws should be reformed to allow those age 13 to 16 to be able to work and to keep their wages without paying taxes. The nation's entrepreneurs began young, he says.

Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University, said Gingrich will have an uphill climb in making himself over as a centrist unifier. Most people still know him as an angry partisan crusader, Black said.

But Gingrich said that label is something of a caricature. He points out that welfare reform - one of the signature accomplishments of his tenure in the House - passed with support from half the chamber's Democrats. (He doesn't mention that it was also being pushed by Democratic president Bill Clinton, whose presidency the then-speaker went on to compare to the Jerry Springer show.)

Still, Gingrich said although he remains a loyal Republican he hopes Democrats steal his platform, arguing - with his trademark self confidence - that it would raise the bar.
I agree with Merle Black: Gingrich has a huge chasm to bridge in making himself over as a centrist.

But that phone call from Al Gore's what really kills me. It's Gingrich's "inconvenient truth," on which he'll be pummelled by conservative global warming skeptics.