Clift Crushed Bush's Coalition Building Then, Takes It Easy on Obama Now

In the 2003 run-up to the Iraq war Eleanor Clift mocked George W. Bush’s 39-nation strong “coalition of the willing” as the “bullied and the bribed” but fast forward to today and The Daily Beast reporter is taking a much different tone with Barack Obama’s 9-nation grouping.

On the September 7 edition of the syndicated McLaughlin Group, Clift claimed Obama’s response to ISIS was an opportunity for “Obama to chart a course and I think bring renewed purpose for the rest of his presidency and to put policies in place that will leave his successor a better hand than he was dealt when he came into office.”  

But after attacking George W. Bush for leaving Obama with a bad hand, she then praised the current president for following the path of Bush’s father: “If they do go into Syria...you go in with the kind of coalition that George H.W. Bush assembled back in the day. And the first President Bush is the president whose foreign policy President Obama admires the most. And to put together, in effect, a Desert Storm II is what this administration is now undertaking.”

On the February 22, 2003 edition of the McLaughlin Group, Clift took a decidedly harsher take on George W. Bush’s brand of alliance building: “[President Bush] is bringing along a world coalition that he calls a ‘coalition of the willing,’ when it’s really a coalition of the bullied and the bribed.”

A little later in the show Clift confessed that Obama admitting he had no strategy for ISIS was something he should not have said “out loud” but then praised Obama for having “a strategy now” and liked that “he’s brought Europe along.”

The following exchanges were aired on the September 7 edition of The McLaughlin Group:

ELEANOR CLIFT: NATO, I mean, as awful as ISIS is, this is an opportunity for NATO to redefine itself and to find a mission. And for President Obama to chart a course and I think bring renewed purpose for the rest of his presidency and to put policies in place that will leave his successor a better hand than he was dealt when he came into office.

The president will go to congress. The congress is lining up quite nicely. You have Senator Inhofe, who is the Republican chairman of the Armed Services committee basically saying that Republicans would be supportive of an authorization of use of position paper or resolution or whatever it’s called to go into Syria.

But if they do go into Syria, and that’s by no means guaranteed at this point, you go in with the kind of coalition that George H.W. Bush assembled back in the day. And the first President Bush is the president whose foreign policy President Obama admires the most. And to put together, in effect, a Desert Storm II is what this administration is now undertaking. It’s a big task.
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MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. President Obama began the week on the defensive about the White House’s lack of a strategy against ISIS. Is he still on the defensive?
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CLIFT: Saying that he didn’t have a strategy was a statement of the obvious - the kind of a thing you shouldn’t say out loud. He does have a strategy now and he’s brought Europe along. And those beheadings - I think - have really sobered up a lot of people.

McLaughlin Group Eleanor Clift

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