Too much to expect from this president on Syria? “This administration has mastered the art of defining deviancy down – particularly when it comes to the deviancy of rogue states and WMD (read Iran, North Korea, Syria). But having boxed himself into a corner, Obama is now faced with the choice of repudiating his earlier self, or actually doing something. What should that something be? It’s been said, said again, and said a hundred times: Arm moderates among the Syrian rebels. Take out Syrian air power. Take out scud launchers. Create a humanitarian corridor. These are DOABLE goals, requiring no boots on the ground.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (Jim Watson/Associated Press) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has faced questions on the administration’s policy toward Syria. (Jim Watson/Associated Press)

Too transparent in their desire to do nothing? “White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the administration had no deadline for determining definitively whether Syria had used chemical weapons.” I imagine the real answer is, “Never.”

Too much for the GOP to hope for more stand offs and caves from the president? “The White House is leaving the door open to using a piecemeal approach to dealing with potentially disruptive across-the-board cuts in spending despite demands from some Democrats that the president renounce the strategy. Obama’s embrace of a GOP-backed fix to FAA spending may have put an end to flight disruptions across the country, but Democrats insist it’s no way to fight their war with Republicans over the sequester. But for now, the White House isn’t willing to take future narrow fixes off the table.”

Too demoralizing for those who haven’t already lost their jobs? “Barry Diller, chairman of Newsweek parent company IAC, admitted Monday on Bloomberg that purchasing the embattled magazine was a mistake. ‘There are some magazines that have no competition essentially in their field, luxury magazines. Advertisers must advertise in them. But for a news magazine … it was not possible to print it any longer. So we said we will offer a digital product. We have a very, very solid newsroom, and we’ll see. I don’t have great expectations. I wish I hadn’t bought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”

Too pathetic when David Gergen tells you to man up? “I appreciate the Administration has a dilemma. They want Assad to fall. They want him to lose, but they don’t want the rebels to win. It puts you in an awkward place because they’re really worried it will become an Islamist state. But Norah, I respectfully disagree that the red line’s a distraction. Once a President of the United States draws a red line it becomes important to the world. Everybody else reads in to how he responds to a red line. Is he serious about Iran? Is he not serious about Iran? He’s drawn a red line on Iran. If he doesn’t respect his own red line on Syria, there is no question that Israel and Iran will look at that and say, ‘Well, we can’t trust the guy. He’s not going to be tough.'”

Too little, too late? “If sanctions are to make any dent in Iran’s nuclear procurement, Western governments must rethink both their policy and its implementation. It is not enough to put a few companies on the black list–sanctions must be sweeping to the point of a total economic embargo. And it is not enough to put rules in the law book–unless sanctions are truly enforced, Iran will continue to elude restrictions.”

Too lax? “A more dogged pursuit of leads and better intelligence sharing could have prevented the September 11 attacks, and some lawmakers now wonder if the same goes for Boston. The FBI investigated Tamerlan in 2011 after Russia’s initial warning that he’d grown enchanted by Islamic radicalism, but the bureau closed its file on him after finding no ‘derogatory’ information. Even if the FBI had no legal grounds to continue surveilling Tsarnaev without more specific information, however, some critics suggest that local law enforcement could have kept an eye on him. At the federal level, meanwhile, critics are asking whether intelligence agencies should have perked up when Tamerlan returned from a six-month trip to Russia last year.”