Twitter hasn't been very charitable to Obama administration officials trying to make a nuanced argument for a limited military strike against Syria. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made fun of Secretary of State John Kerry for saying that a military strike in Syria would be "unbelievably small":
Kerry says #Syria strike would be "unbelievably small" - that is unbelievably unhelpful
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 9, 2013
Other Twitter users were also frustrated with Kerry's remarks.
Conservative radio host Erick Erickson replied:
BREAKING: Obama to deploy the itsy bitsy spider for unbelievably small attack on Syria.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 9, 2013
"I realize the administration is speaking to multiple audiences — trying to play bad cop with Assad at the same time it’s trying to cajole a skeptical American public," Joshua Keating wrote. "But when the same official is playing both roles, it becomes a little hard to keep the narrative straight."
The administration has also been teased for comments an official made to USA TODAY's Tom Vanden Brook:
A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he'll still be able to eat Cheerios.
One user responded by parodying a famous statement by the World War II general, George Patton:
"No bastard ever won a war by eating Cheerios with a fork. He won it by making the other dumb bastard eat Cheerios with a fork" - Gen Mills
— Sean Agnew (@seanagnew) September 9, 2013
The official's apparent comparison of human lives to Cheerios and forks and spoons to conventional and chemical weapons was perceived as insensitive by some. One user pointed to the fact that although the international community has objected to the use of nerve gas in Syria's civil war, conventional weapons have already killed around 100,000 people there:
— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) September 9, 2013