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Saturday, September 7, 2013

His last viable venue

With his call to action failing to gain traction in Congress, President Barack Obama is taking his case for striking Syria directly to the American people on Tuesday.

It’s the last viable venue for a president desperately in need of a new audience — and a sharper message.

 The sales job has been a struggle for Obama, in part because he hasn’t yet found an argument to convince Americans and their elected representatives that it’s in America’s best interests to intervene in Syria’s civil war — even if only a little.

Now, the man who campaigned against George W. Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” is in danger of having to go it alone or back down from his vow to punish Bashar Assad.

So, there’s a lot riding on this speech — some say the fate of Obama’s second term will turn on his ability to persuade Congress — and it’s coming at a time when some folks think his oratory doesn’t have quite the oomph it once did. “His challenge is the country isn’t listening the way it did,” said David Gergen, who advised four presidents and now teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “He’s been to the well a lot.”

Here are five questions the president will have to answer to get the public — and Congress — in his corner. (Continues)

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