Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gingrich and Kerry Environmental Debate

I linked the WaPo article, frankly, because it was far fairer than those seen in the NYTimes or the Boston Globe.
Yesterday's global-warming debate between John Kerry and Newt Gingrich was, as the moderator put it, "advertised as a smack-down and a prizefight." But those labels were too modest for Kerry.

"Welcome to our environmental version of the Lincoln-Douglas debates," the former Democratic presidential nominee told the crowd in the Russell Caucus Room. "We flipped a coin, and I picked Lincoln."

God I hate John Kerry.
Before Kerry got a word in, Gingrich conceded that global warming is real, that humans have contributed to it and that "we should address it very actively." Gingrich held up Kerry's new book, "This Moment on Earth," and called it "a very interesting read."
Oh that must of ticked him off.
The warm and fuzzy Gingrich surprised Kerry, who jettisoned prepared remarks that accused the former speaker of "marching in lock step with the climate-change deniers." Instead, Kerry found himself saying: "I've always enjoyed every dialogue he and I have ever had." He added that "your statement is very, very important" and gushed: "I frankly appreciate the candor."
But don't bother to think this was a pleasant debate. Partisanship is pretty much impossible to remove from these two.
Even his one big difference with Kerry -- Gingrich favored tax incentives to reduce carbon dioxide rather than a government "cap and trade" program -- was negotiable. "I am not automatically saying that coercion and bureaucracy is not an answer," he granted.
This point is interesting and a bit galling. Strange how a Dem wants the US to be all fuzzy and nice in foreign policy when dealing with state sponsors of terrorism like Syria, but when it's our own people they want to start the caning. As for Gingrich, purely going by incentives will ensure resistance that will cause delays in any serious change. The best thing to do is to use both, start with the incentives, but build legislation that has a punishment for non-compliance.
Kerry appeared uncomfortable as Gingrich impersonated Al Gore. The senator tapped his foot, drummed his fingers, folded his arms and looked around the room with a crooked grin. He tried, at first, to lure Gingrich into a confrontation. "The essence of what I just heard from Newt," he said, is that climate change is "not such a crisis that we have to respond quickly."

Gingrich protested this mischaracterization. "We're not arguing over whether it should be urgent," he said.

Kerry persisted: "We're arguing over the level of the urgency."

"The question of urgency isn't what's being debated here," Gingrich repeated.

Finally, Kerry relented. "I'm excited to hear you talk about the urgency," he said. But "what would you say to Senator [Jim] Inhofe [R-Okla.] and to others in the Senate who are resisting even the science?"

Gingrich didn't hesitate. "My message," he said, "is that the evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading of the atmosphere." The pro-Kerry crowd applauded.

"And do it urgently?" the senator pressed.

"And do it urgently, yeah," the former speaker replied. "I think there has to be, if you will, a green conservatism," he added.
Interesting. This definitely looks like Gingrich is in the position of a more moderate Repub. This debate hasn't been about whether global warming is happening for some time. Most of the arguments have been on how much is caused by humanity. The far left claims all and that we're on the road to apocalypse. The far right claims none, and that this is all natural. Both points are out of whack with reality. Maybe Newt can get more conservatives to play. Or maybe convince them that there are more reasons to do it than just for politics.

But the BoGlobe has this quote from Kerry, which no doubt was expected.
For his part, Kerry said he was cautiously encouraged that more prominent Republicans are beginning to accept climate change as a serious issue.

"It's important to have a conservative leader saying, 'I accept the science and I accept the urgency and we need to do something,' " Kerry said after the debate.

Still, he questioned whether the newfound willingness by some conservatives to address global warming is sincere.

"Words can come fast and furious in Washington," he said.
Right, and I'm sure Kerry is willing to consider that Algore may be an extreme alarmist. Or maybe not.

Frankly, I wonder why Kerry ended up in this debate. It got him little politically, and just helped Newt look reasonable. Well, at least on this subject. Can we expect any legislation from Kerry on this? I doubt it, why would he start writing law now.

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