Bill Kristol: Robert Gates' Bombshell Could Hurt Obama, Hillary

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 07:04 PM

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' claim that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both admitted their opposition to the troop surge in Iraq was politically motivated is a bombshell that could haunt them, particularly the former first lady and secretary of state if she runs for president.

So says Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard.

"I don't think it goes away, because it's about something serious," Kristol told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"[Clinton] voted for the war. She then tried to repudiate the war and, of course, oppose the surge, when it now appears she knew better," Kristol said Wednesday.

"She sat there quietly [as] the president gave speech after speech, 'I've ended that war, I've ended that war,' and now we see al-Qaida raising the black flag over Fallujah."

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In his new book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," excerpts of which were obtained by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, Gates paraphrases Clinton as saying in a meeting that she opposed the surge because she would have to face then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primary.

Gates also paraphrases Obama at the same meeting as "vaguely" confirming that his opposition to the surge was also politically motivated. Gates called the admission "as surprising as it was dismaying."

"It fits into the question of how pliant [Clinton] was, how politically motivated she was in the context of foreign policy and her foreign policy decisions, and the fact that it's going to end up being a failed foreign policy," Kristol said.

"I've never thought Hillary Clinton would be a very strong candidate in 2016," he said.

Kristol said he was "really surprised" at the release of Gates' book.

"Bob Gates is a team player, a professional, and his normal instinct would have been either not to write this book, or to wait until President Obama was out of office, or simply to pull his punches," Kristol said.

"There is a degree of real unhappiness and disdain maybe for the president and the way he ran his White House, in particular with respect to the war.

"I mean, this was a nation at war, [and] Bob Gates took that very seriously . . . He was dealing, those last two or three years after Bush left . . . with a president who didn't take seriously being commander-in-chief in time of war."

Kristol said that lack of commitment by Obama "really got" to Gates.

"He really found that distasteful and inappropriate, and some of the things that Obama said and his cavalier-ness at ordering young men and women off to Afghanistan to fight while at the same time sort of saying, well, basically having the attitude that the only thing there to do was to get out," Kristol said.

"So, the Gates [book] should be taken seriously as the judgment of a guy who's not a real conservative, whose instinct would always be to give the benefit of the doubt to the president he served, and that he was really provoked in a way to write what he writes is pretty striking."

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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