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

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Obama and children. The suffering of children sparks an emotional reaction in Obama like nothing else. As with his response to the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December, Obama’s eyes shone with contempt and moral outrage when he discussed the “hundreds of children” subjected to poison gas in Syria last month.

Obama: America is not 'the world's policeman'

Himself the father of two young children, the president referred to the children who died no fewer than seven times – at times in graphic terms, including the searing image of “a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.”

And he directed one moral plea about the children to a constituency that usually backs him.

“To my friends on the left,” Obama said, “I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.”

Two of Obama’s top foreign policy advisers – National Security Adviser Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power – have also highlighted the suffering of Syrian children in their public remarks calling for US action. But Obama’s rhetoric Tuesday showed that it’s not just the women of his administration who are hard-wired to feel special compassion for children.

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