If you look up the word ‘Orwellian’ on Wikipedia — “An attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past” — there should be a picture of Newt Gingrich’s new book, A Contract with the Earth.
Instead of wasting time reading a whole book of disinformation, you can just read this interview in Salon, “Give Newt a chance” — it is definitely all the Newt that is fit to print.
To cut to the chase, readers of this blog will not be surprised that a conservative pretending to care about the environment adopts the anti-regulation, pro-technology approach suggested by GOP strategist, Frank Luntz, and popularized by his protege, George Bush (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah”).
You may be surprised that Newt calls himself an environmentalist, given that he co-authored and then worked to enact the anti-environmental Contract with America. Oh, but Newt now claims:
I don’t think that the environment was a central focus of the Contract With America. I don’t think that it was bad for the environment. I don’t know of a single thing in the Contract that was bad for the environment.
I think Salon had to pause in the interview at that point to allow Newt to douse the flames that began engulfing his trousers. In fact, the CWA was a clever, stealthy attack on the environment as detailed by NRDC in a lengthy analysis (summarized here), by the Sierra Club, and by the National Wildlife Federation, which wrote at the time: “Taken as a whole, the House plan constitutes the broadest and deepest attack ever mounted against laws that protect public health, the environment, natural resources and wildlife.”
The only thing more gut-busting than Gingrich claiming that the CWA and related legislation wasn’t bad for the environment is his newfound embrace of technology as the answer to climate/energy problems.
Recall that in the 1990s, the Gingrich Congress tried to shut down the Department of Energy, slash all clean energy research (including biofuels), stop the joint government-industry effort to develop a superefficient car, and zero out all programs aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse emissions and accelerating technology deployment (for some history, see my 1996 Atlantic Monthly article and this 1997 article).
I can think of no single politician since Ronald Reagan who has done more to set back America’s leadership in clean technology than Newt Gingrich. So it is especially laughable that his website quiz, “Are you a mainstream environmentalist?” gives you more points the more you support these statements: