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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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June 13th, 2013
06:15 PM ET

Analysis: Clinton splits with Obama on Syria using 'school house taunt'

Syria has crossed a 'red line' with its use of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels, the White House said Thursday.

The acknowledgement is the first time President Barack Obama's administration has definitively said what it has long suspected - that President Bashar al-Assad's forces have used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war.

According to Politico, behind closed doors former president Bill Clinton said it would be lame “lame” to blame a lack of intervention on opposition in polls or among members of Congress.

He reportedly went on to say, "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.’ ... You’d look like a total wuss. And you would be."

That's some pretty tough talk from Clinton.

"It's a little like a school house taunt," said CNN contributor and former senior adviser to Mitt Romney Kevin Madden. "He's seen as like the cool kid on the schoolyard, and he's not somebody who you want going out there and shaping perceptions ... [or] shaping your opinions in a negative way."

"He was speaking as a president emeritus, saying, 'you know what you can't look at the polls, and so what if Congress isn't with you on it,'" said CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.  "But looking at it through the prism of 2016, we know his wife was for arming the rebels in some limited way last summer."

"It was a little unfair though of President Clinton to say that President Obama isn't being more aggressive because of polls ... it's actually kind of complicated what you do, and how you can get there," said CNN contributor and democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Which Clinton would know, given he did not intervene in Rwanda.

Check out the full politics panel discussion in the video above, including analysis of the recent controversy over rape remarks by Republican Congressman Trent Franks, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi clashing with a reporter Thursday.

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