It’s inevitable, in the ebb and flow of international crises and domestic concerns, that the White House will seize an opportunity to change the subject.
Following President Barack Obama’s impassioned appeal for public support for a military strike against Syria for its use of chemical weapons on prime-time TV this week — and his announcement that he is putting the brakes on that while the U.S. and Russia pursue talks about seizing Syria’s weapons instead — the White House said there will be no deadline placed on those talks. That means they could go on for some time, unless they fall apart.
The president and his Cabinet were meeting at the White House today.
And Obama wanted to make it clear that they have a full agenda on the table — such as the budget and comprehensive immigration reform — while noting that one member was absent, Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Geneva for negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“I am hopeful that the discussions with Secretary Kerry with foreign minister Lavrov as well as some of the other players in this can yield a concrete result and I know that he is going to be working hard over the next several days to see if the possibilities are there,” the president said at the top of the meeting.
“But even as we have been spending a lot of time on the Syria issue and making sure that international attention is focused on the horrible tragedy that occurred there,” Obama said, “it is still important to recognize that we got a lot more stuff to do in this country.”
The president, however, fielded shouted questions from reporters — asking about the op-ed essay that Russian President Vladimir Putin published in The New York Times today criticizing the U.S. for plans to attack Syria and saying that the U.S. isn’t as “exceptional” as Obama said it is the other night — with a polite: “Thank you… Thank you.”