What are we to believe about Newt Gingrich’s recent admission that his commercial with Nancy Pelosi in 2008 was the, “dumbest single thing,” he has done in years.
Conservatives agree that it was dumb, in fact, infuriating. Gingrich has for years suggested that he is a staunch, combative conservative.
This week, the Daily Caller reported on a segment on Fox News where Newt was a guest and said,
“First of all, that is probably the dumbest single thing I’ve done in years,” Gingrich said. “It is inexplicable that somebody used to say, ‘You know, there aren’t enough hay wagons to stand on to get people to understand that.’ You just need to relax and go, that was dumb.”
Panelist Charles Krauthammer asked Gingrich if he was being held hostage when the ad was filmed. Gingrich responded that he just made a mistake.
“No, that was dumb,” Gingrich said. “I was trying to do something I failed to do. I do think it’s important for conservative to be in the middle of the debate over the environment.”
With that explanation, for many conservatives, Newt saved himself. But what did he actually say? He did not apologize for stepping off the platform, he did not tell us he had a change of heart. Krauthammer asked if he was held hostage, presumably to point out that Gingrich was giving the impression he did not agree with the commercial. When Newt speaks, you have to very carefully listen to his words.
He did not say that he thought the commercial was a waste of time, nor did he say that he disagrees with the message from the couch, “we do agree that our country must take action to address climate change.” Instead he responded, “I was trying to do something I failed to do.”
What did he mean by that?
Newt, “ran for Congress in 1974 against Jack Flynt, an eleven-term incumbent. Gingrich went door-to-door with a new brand of progressive conservatism, emphasizing environmental issues and the need to end corruption in government. Gingrich charged that the Democrats had been in power so long that it had led them to become arrogant and unresponsive to the needs of their constituents. Although Gingrich lost the 1974 race against Flynt and another one in 1976, he gained strength with each campaign and began to be recognized as a formidable opponent. In 1978 Flynt chose to retire rather than run again against the energetic Gingrich, who was at last successful in getting elected to Congress.”
Perhaps the progressive conservatism that began his career has always been part of his agenda. He has written a book, “Contract With The Earth” which, according to him is a, “pro-market, pro-entrepreneur, innovative environmentalism.” That description of his own book could be why he said, “somebody used to say, ‘You know, there aren’t enough hay wagons to stand on to get people to understand that.’ You just need to relax and go, that was dumb.”
What Newt told Fox News is that he does still believe government has a role in addressing climate change, and that he took somebody’s advice to call the commercial dumb.
He did not tell us that his progressive conservatism has ended.