If pressed on the issue, if absolutely forced to make a statement one way or the other, I would have to say I’m kind of glad Newt Gingrich seems to have come over to the side of the angels when it comes to the environment. Maybe. I trust Newt Gingrich about as far as I could throw him without the aid of a medieval siege engine and I no more want to see him near the levers of power than I’d want to see him marry one of my daughters, but if he’s going to open his mouth, I guess he might as well say something useful. Although I would appreciate it if he would drop this grating “Republicans are FUN environmentalists” approach Arnold Schwarzenegger has also adopted. That spiel reminds me a bit too keenly of the GOP’s 2000 campaign pledge to “change the tone” in Washington; once again we’re supposed to gloss over their role in creating the problem while accepting them as a pain-free solution to it.
If he really wants to convince us he’s gone green, I suggest he take a cue from his past championing of Internet commerce. Gingrich fought hard to keep e-commerce businesses exempt from most taxes, which helped create the massive, tantalizing profit potential that made them irresistible to investors. Why not fight for a similar exemption for businesses developing the technologies we need to wean ourselves from petroleum dependency and reduce greenhouse emissions? There’s a breathtaking amount of capital floating around out there, much of it being steered towards products designed for rapidly failing business models. Why not steer it to where it’s needed and can actually do some good for the future? And unlike the high burn-rate startups of the dotcom boom, these businesses will have a measurable standard for success and failure: do their products actually work? (Fair warning: if you adopt a talking sock puppet as your company spokesperson, you will be taxed into oblivion just on general principle.)
This is something Gingrich and the new green conservatives can do that I’ll actually buy. I find their rhetoric about saving the world while letting you keep your muscle car disingenuous, and we know how they feel about government regulations. They do love cutting taxes though - why not cut the right taxes for a change?