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Obama agenda: No Syria decision yet

President Obama to PBS: “I’ve not made a decision” yet on Syria, though he has gotten military options. But he went on to make the case for taking action. “I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable.”

He also explicitly blamed the Syrian regime for the chemical attack: “We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed … or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.” He also stated that Syria “has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world” and he alleged Syria is “allied to known terrorist organizations that, in the past, have targeted the United States, then there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us.”

He also acknowledged to shadow of Iraq: “We can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about.”

What does a limited strike accomplish? Assad “will have received a pretty strong signal, that in fact, it better not do it again.” But, he acknowledged, “that doesn’t solve all the problems inside of Syria, and, you know, it doesn’t, obviously end the death of innocent civilians inside of Syria.”

About author Taylor Branch’s assertion that the president was being opposed by Republicans, in part, because of race, the president took the high road: “Well, you know, I was on stage with President Clinton, and I remember him having a pretty hard time with the Republicans as well. There does be a habit sometimes of just Democratic presidents generally being – efforts being made to delegitimize them in some fashion. And that’s fine because, you know, politics is – is not – is not bean bag, as they used to say – it’s not a noncontact sport. And – and I don’t worry about it personally.”

National Journal: “Republicans have long blamed President Obama's signature health care initiative for increasing insurance costs, dubbing it the ‘Unaffordable Care Act.’ Turns out, they might be right. For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they're currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data.”