Take a look at the latest Romney spot taking aim at Newt Gingrich:
What exactly, according to the Romney campaign, makes Newt an "unreliable leader"?
It can't just be that Newt once favored legislation to regulate CO2 emissions in the interest of combating climate change. When Romney was governor of Massachusetts he imposed carbon emission caps on power-generating facilities in the state. If anything, he thereby betrayed a more radical commitment to controlling climate change than Newt.
Romney was perfectly willing to make Massachusetts residents pay more for energy and put Massachusetts businesses at a commercial disadvantage relative to out-of-state competitors. And he did it knowing full well that, taken by themselves, the CO2 emission caps wouldn't make Massachusetts air any cleaner or the planet any cooler. At least the federal legislation Gingrich and Pelosi were pushing probably would have had a very small, but measurable, impact on global temperatures because American actions would have been conditioned on the cooperation of other industrialized and industrializing nations. That doesn't make it a good idea, but it wasn't an entirely empty gesture like Mitt's carbon emission caps.
Is the measure of Newt's unreliability just his readiness to extend his hand across the aisle to get something done? That can't be it either. Romney has been bending our ear off for years about how much good stuff he managed to get done in Massachusetts in concert with a Democratic state assembly. He used to tout the Massachusetts carbon emission caps alongside RomneyCare as cases in point. At least Newt has been telling Republicans that getting on the global warming bandwagon was "the dumbest thing [he's] done in years." To my knowledge, Romney hasn't said a word about his own climate-control misadventures.
So what failure of leadership on Newt's part does that leave us with? Take a look at the Romney spot's title: the black mark against Newt can only be letting himself be photographed sharing a couch with Nancy Pelosi. Worse, he was giving aid and comfort to Al Gore in the process! It's one thing for a Republican presidential nominee to be ready to reach across the aisle to join hands with, say, a Ben Nelson, a Mary Landrieu or a Claire McCaskill, especially if it's a way of politically isolating the president and the Democratic congressional leadership. But clutching the hands of political soul-stealers like Pelosi, Gore (or, heaven forbid, Obama) is another matter entirely.