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Clinton: 'Big Mistake' Not to Act in Syria

Presidents who don't act because of polls risk looking 'like total wuss'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2013 10:09 AM CDT
Clinton: 'Big Mistake' Not to Act in Syria
John McCain acknowledges the audience with Bill Clinton after delivering remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, Sept 25, 2008 in New York.   (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

With the body count mounting in Syria, Bill Clinton has joined the chorus calling for American intervention, in what some are seeing as a sharp turn away from the White House. At a closed-to-the-press event on Tuesday night, Clinton sided with John McCain—the Obama administration's biggest critic on Syria policy—in saying the US was being too cautious. "Some people say 'OK, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!' I think it's a big mistake. I agree with you about this," he can be heard telling McCain in a recording of the event obtained by Politico. Further, if a president did nothing because "80% of (the public was) against it ... you'd look like a total wuss," said Clinton.

"We shouldn't over-learn the lessons of the past. I don't think Syria is necessarily Iraq or Afghanistan," Clinton said, likening the situation more to Ronald Reagan's Afghan intervention, and stressing that "nobody is asking for American soldiers in Syria." As for polling, when the public tells "you ‘no’ in these situations, very often what they’re doing is flashing a giant yellow light and saying, ‘For God’s sakes, be careful ... They hire you to win … to look around the corner and see down the road." Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey is skeptical that the comments represent any kind of a new 42-44 divide: "This looks more like a battleground-shaping exercise than a split, in part because Obama clearly isn’t opposed to intervention of some kind." (Read more Syria stories.)

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