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Syria speech: What we learned about Obama (+video)

The suffering of children – mentioned seven times in the speech – sparks Obama's moral outrage like nothing else. And his presidential 'bubble' isn't as impervious as some might think.

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President Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech about Syria from the East Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday.

Evan Vucci/AP

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President Obama’s primetime speech on Syria Tuesday night seemed almost anti-climactic after all the buildup  – six network TV interviews the night before, the flurry of speeches and interviews by top advisers, the sudden opening Monday of a diplomatic path for dealing with Syria’s chemical arsenal.

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s announcement that he had asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize use of force against Syria was not even necessary. Action in Congress had already been put on hold.

But the president’s 16-minute speech did at least lay out, in one digestible narrative, his thought process on dealing with the Assad regime, which had crossed Obama’s “red line” after allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people Aug. 21. Obama also shed light on how he processes events. To wit:

 
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