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Chris Matthews: Democrats Have to 'Save President's Hide' on Syria

By Wanda Carruthers   |   Wednesday, 04 Sep 2013 12:18 PM

Democrats in Congress will be trying to "save the president's hide" if they vote for a resolution to strike Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, liberal political commentator Chris Matthews said Wednesday.

"They have to vote for it to save the president's hide. That's a very bad position to put your party in," Matthews said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"I think the Democrats will be forced to sacrifice men and women who really, really don't want to vote for this," he added. "Partisanship shows its ugly head here."

Matthews, who has his own "Hardball" political show on MSNBC, said he believes that a strike against Syria could lead to war instead of sending a message to deter further use of chemical weapons, as the president intends.

"We (the United States) have to react to the use of chemical weapons. What do you think they're going to do? They're not going to say, 'Thank you, I guess that's the end of it,'" Matthews said.

"We are taking the move. We are the ones who assume it's the end of the war. No, it's the first battle in the war. This will go on and on. That guy, (Syrian President Bashar ) Assad, sees us as the enemy. Hezbollah sees us as the enemy," he added.

"From our side it's a pinprick. If you're on the other side . . . they look at is as an act of war."

But Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insisted during an appearance on "Morning Joe" that the resolution currently before his panel has strict limits on U.S. involvement in Syria.

"It is tailored, narrow in both scope and breadth, and it assures there are no American troops on the ground. And it has a time limitation," the New Jersey Democrat said.

Menendez said the resolution would give "the president the wherewithal to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons" and "send a global message."

"It hits the sweet spot as best as possible," he added.

Menendez stressed that the Senate resolution was built by input from "both sides of the aisle," and the decision to strike Syria was not made in haste.

"I don't come to the conclusion of military force lightly. But, I fully understand the consequences to national security of inaction," the chairman said. "Hopefully, by punishing Assad, and using chemical weapons against him, there is a consequence to his overall ability."

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