I really want to like this guy Guinta; if he clears the primary I'm going to have to vote for him. It's getting harder rather than easier though, because he seems far too adept at blaming everyone else but himself for his troubles. This is not a good sign.
I wrote in this space recently about my concerns with Guinta's position on the Stimulus bill. His fans supporters and minions took me to task on the credibility of both my claims and my sources, and that's ok - this is a blood sport after all.
But in my follow-up research on the details of this Stimulus flap, I found some troubling remarks...even from his own blog page (in which he attempted to clarify himself)...which seem to indicate he's not all that good at taking responsibility for things that don't go his way or run counter to his talking points of the day.
Below his entry there are several articles and op-eds that Guinta has pasted in to set some background and context. In these, he is quoted as pointing blame in a lot of different directions; from the Aldermen to the School Board to Governor Lynch himself. Guinta, it seems, has an excuse to fit any occasion. So, when the latest kerfluffle about where he stands on Cap & Trade bubbled up, I did a little digging.
It starts with a piece in the Nashua Telegraph on July 19:
While on the campaign trail, Guinta has attacked the federal climate change bill known as cap and trade.
But the political website (RealClearPolitics.Com) pointed out two locations where then-Mayor Guinta signed on to climate change agreements. They were the U.S. Mayors pact that endorsed the Kyoto protocol emission targets [Note: front page of this agreement is here]. The list of supporters is at www.usmayors.org/climate protection/list.asp.
The website noted Guinta backed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which endorsed the Kyoto protocol emissions targets.
As mayor, Guinta also backed to the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Agreement. The minutes for that aldermanic meeting are posted with this column at nashuatelegraph.com. [Note: more easily found here].
Guinta spokesman Sean Thomas said the Manchester Board of Aldermen initiated the Sierra Club arrangement and the mayor signed on as the city’s chief executive.
“Some are trying to spin this as Frank signing on to cap and trade and it’s absolutely not the same thing,” Thomas added.
As for the Conference of Mayors, Thomas said the group probably got support from predecessor Mayor Robert Baines, a Democrat, and substitute Guinta’s name after the fact.
One of the first acts Guinta made as mayor was to rescind the city’s membership in the U.S. Mayors Group as part of a budget-cutting initiative, Thomas added.
Someone else substituted his name? Really? And then, under the auspices of saving money, Guinta rescinded Manchester's membership in the U.S. Mayors Group? Hmm...and what about this Sierra Club mess? Which is it - agree and sign or disagree and not sign?
Off I go, then, to a July 19 piece at RealClearPolitics and what I find is more of Guinta's people trying to deflect and obfuscate:
Within hours of posting that ("Granstanding Green Guinta in Trouble?" July 15, 2010), Guinta campaign consultant and old New Hampshire political hand Mike Biundo wrote to me alleging that the post was “wrong.” He explained, “We never signed on to either the initiatives you mentioned in your article. The Board of Alderman voted for these initiatives but as the chief executive Frank had to sign it. He was not for either proposal.”
Please don't tell me we've devolved to "I didn't sign on, but I did sign on, but it was my job to sign on, but I never agreed with what I signed on to." Where's John Kerry...he'd be so proud.
This is not the sort of Congressman we need representing the Granite State...I hope Guinta had a little chat with his people after that doozy. As Matt Lewis pointed out 2 days later, there's a right way and a wrong way to respond to questions you wish you didn't have to answer:
Here’s an important rule never to forget when talking to a reporter: Saying I don’t know the answer to that is always preferable to making something up … especially when the facts are easily discovered.
This story just won't die. The next day, NowHampshire picked it up, un-muddying Guinta's rough Cap & Trade waters [emphasis mine]:
The campaign of embattled Republican congressional candidate Frank Guinta acknowledged on Wednesday that as Mayor of Manchester Guinta signed on to the Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities Initiative” three years ago, which included participation in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and endorsement an of federal cap-and-trade legislation.
Guinta denied having signed the Conference of Mayors Agreement last weekend to Nashua Telegraph columnist Kevin Landrigan. But his story – that the previous Democratic mayor signed the agreement and Guinta’s name was swapped in after he took office – began to unravel when conservative bloggers unearthed contemporary news stories showing Guinta embraced the Sierra Club’s agenda.
So much pain could have been avoided if TeamGuinta had just said he agreed with the US Mayors and the Sierra Club back then, but realizes now that this will kill jobs... and that after the employment crash (which happened AFTER he thought this "Climate Protection" thing was a really cool and good idea) he came to change his position and is now AGAINST job killing legislation of ANY kind...not the least of which would be Cap & Trade.
But Guinta chose not to take that path, and has come to look more like a finger-pointer than a US Congressman. This will not serve us well in January 2011. We need people that are willing to take a stand, to be sure, but we also need folks that are willing to admit they don't have all the answers and might need to adjust their positions as facts on the ground and in the real world unfold. Guinta says he's against Cap & Trade (now), and that's fine. Denying he was once in favor of Cap & Trade-Lite policy when there's a paper trail that suggests otherwise was bad enough...blaming everyone else but himself for getting his name in that camp only makes him look unprepared to lead.
We know how well that's worked out so far higher up the Political food chain...don't we?