Before President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night, CNN’s David Gergen was asked if the president’s response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria was muddied. Gergen replied that in 40 years he had rarely seen a response to a situation this muddied other than Watergate:
ANDERSON COOPER: David Gergen, you’ve worked in white houses for Republicans and Democratic presidents. You heard John McCain say he’s never seen the response. Is that accurate? Have you seen do you think the response is muddied?
DAVID GERGEN Maybe, I went through Watergate, Anderson. That was quite muddy. But in 40 years or so, not very often. This is quite rare.
COOPER Why? To you what are the key points that make it so muddied? The situation on ground in Syria you could argue is muddied.
GERGEN It’s extraordinarily muddled. The Middle East is a very very complex place. We’re not playing checkers. We’re playing three-dimensional chess in this and frankly, I’m not sure the President has the team he had in the first term. They are still coming together as a team. It’s been hard for them, and clearly, the President himself is extraordinarily ambivalent what he wants here. He’s drawn to the peace option, to the multilateral option and got a noble prize to stay out of war. I think that has a lot to do. President’s need to be very firm in their gut what they are about to do, especially when they pull the trigger.