Washington Post Mocks Newt's Book As a 'Smokey the Bear' Pose

December 28th, 2007 8:29 AM

The Washington Post reviewed Newt Gingrich and Terry Maple’s "A Contract for the Earth" on Sunday, but Post "national environmental reporter" Juliet Eilperin was torn. On one hand, she wanted to say that even the Republicans recognize and bow before the Global Warming Threat. On the other hand, she simply had to mock the idea that private-sector solutions would help rather than stringent government mandates: "This is no revolutionary manifesto. It's Gingrich as Smokey the Bear, rather than as the provocateur he used to play on the national stage." The Post illustrated the sentence with a graphic that crudely pasted a picture of Gingrich’s face on a Smokey Bear painting.

Ultimately, in the review's final paragraph, Eilperin dismissed the book as "greenwash," resembling a "corporate advertisement" from an op-ed page, designed for public relations rather than actual solutions:

To show the value of what they call "business partnerships on behalf of the environment," the authors describe how the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society have made common cause with such corporate entities as Wal-Mart and McDonald's. As a result, much of the book reads like the kind of corporate advertisement that appears on newspaper op-ed pages. Gingrich and Maple contend that the private sector, not government, holds the answers to the globe's biggest problems. The question is whether people in places such as Bangladesh can afford to wait and see if they're right.

Here’s the "even Republicans see doom around the corner" paragraph:

The fact that a Republican politician and a zoo executive have co-authored a book extolling the virtues of "mainstream environmentalism," warning of dangerous climate change and hailing the Endangered Species Act as a "success story" underscores how much the green debate has shifted. Just a few years ago many Republicans dismissed global warming as a figment of liberals' imagination; now President Bush blames human activities for the rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more acidic seas that scientists have documented around the globe.

But Eilperin found it "strains credulity" to hold Presidents Bush and Clinton as equally negligent on the environment, when every liberal reporter knows that Clinton was much more willing to impose government restrictions and mandates than Bush: 

Gingrich and Maple acknowledge that addressing the current state of the planet will not be easy. "We learned quickly that green is good," they write, "but we've been slow to learn that green is also hard." Yet they gloss over some of the toughest questions facing international policymakers today, and they compare the environmental records of Bush and former President Bill Clinton in a way that strains credulity.

Calling the country's leadership on the environment "timid and restrained," they write that during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, "there were platitudes and a few praiseworthy achievements, but neither president succeeded in significantly advancing environmental policy." The book praises Bush twice for declaring the Northwest Hawaiian Islands a national monument (Gingrich personally pushed to protect that marine biodiversity hotspot), while saying nothing about the policies of the current administration that have so infuriated environmentalists, such as its efforts to reinterpret longstanding laws to give logging, mining and petroleum companies greater access to public lands and resources. Clinton's many national monument designations -- along with his efforts to keep national forests free of roads, revive international climate talks and tighten national air pollution standards -- go unmentioned.