Bill Clinton said Tuesday that President Barack Obama should do more to aid rebels in the Syrian civil war and that he risks looking like “a total fool” if he allows public opinion polls to govern U.S. policy on that front, according to audio obtained by Politico.
The former president made his remarks to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of Obama’s fiercest critics on Syria, during a question-and-answer session at an event for the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Manhattan. Clinton told McCain that he sides him on this issue, and not Obama.
“Some people say, ‘Okay, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!’ I think that’s a big mistake. I agree with you about this,” Clinton reportedly told McCain. “Sometimes it’s just best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t overcommit — like, as long as you don’t make an improvident commitment.”
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released late last month found that 68 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military intervention to end the bloody civil war in Syria. But Clinton appeared to scoff at the idea that polls should influence the President’s decisions.
According to Politico, Clinton said that if inaction was attributed to “a poll in the morning paper that said 80 percent of you were against it … you’d look like a total wuss.”
“But still they hire their president to look around the corner and down the street, and you just think – if you refuse to act and you cause a calamity, the one thing you cannot say when all the eggs have been broken, is that, ‘Oh my God, two years ago there was a poll that said 80 percent of you were against it.’ Right? You’d look like a total fool,” Clinton said.