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Bill Clinton’s incoherent case against Romney on Sandy

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

President Obama may have been forced from the campaign trail back to Washington, but he still has former President Bill Clinton out there stumping for him. Exactly how much help the former president is giving the current one is another matter.

Here’s how CBS described his appearance at the University of Minnesota today, in which he used Hurricane Sandy to scorce points against Romney. Or tried to anyway:

Speaking before a crowd of students at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Mr. Clinton recalled watching “the triumph of the moderate Mitt Romney” in the first presidential debate.

“He ridiculed the president for his efforts to fight global warming in economically efficient ways,” Mr. Clinton said, adding that Romney said to the president mockingly, “You’re going to turn back the seas.” (While energy policy did come up in the debates, Romney never said that).

Mr. Clinton continued, “In my part of America, we would’ve liked it if somebody could’ve done that yesterday.” The former president noted that cities like New York have to implement policies to prepare for the changing climate and said, “In the real world, Barack Obama’s policies work better.”

Specifically, Mr. Clinton criticized Romney for opposing tax credits for wind and solar energy, noting that 175,000 Americans are employed in those sectors. Wind and solar jobs are “good, middle-class jobs,” Mr. Clinton said, while the United States has one of the world’s highest capacities for wind and solar energy. “Why in the world would we walk away from that?” he asked.

Put aside the tastelessness of Clinton trying to score political points on Sandy while people are still picking through the rubble. What is striking is the incoherence of Clinton’s argument. First, he ridicules Romney for mocking Obama’s claim that he could get the sea levels to recede. This just one day after a historic storm made that claim particularly ridiculous. In his next breath, Clinton acknowledges that the water levels didn’t stop rising yesterday but then argues that this somehow proves “in the real world” that Obama’s policies “work better.”

From there he goes on to say that Romney is wrong to oppose the green energy incentives without pointing out they have spent billions of taxpayer dollars to little effect and created scant jobs, certainly not the five million promised. This has only a tangential connection to Sandy – environmentalists claim global warming is causing bigger storms -  but it is not like more windmills and solar panels could have prevented the storm from hitting the east coast.

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