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Syria and the Toxic Wind of Change

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- President Obama on Tuesday changed the tone of the debate over his desire to punish the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for an alleged chemical weapons attack, but Obama could still lose the vote in Congress when it returns from its long vacation next week.

The tone of U.S. media coverage of the Syrian situation immediately changed when Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) on Tuesday, following a meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders, said he would vote to authorize the president to order an attack on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Boehner said "my colleagues should support this call for action."

"The use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and warn others around the word that this type of behavior is not to be tolerated," Boehner added.

President Obama during the meeting said he had "high confidence that Syria used, in an indiscriminate fashion, chemical weapons that killed thousands of people, including over 400 children, and in direct violation of the international norm against using chemical weapons." He added that he was planning for a "limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime, but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), after the meeting, said deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction is "a pillar of our national security," and that "we have to send a very clear message to those who have weapons of mass destruction of any variety that they should forget about using them."

Pelosi said "we must respond," but added that "the American people need to hear more about the intelligence that supports this action, and that is that the responsibility for this chemical weapons use is clearly at the feet of Assad."

Finally, Pelosi used very strong language in supporting the president: "Waiting for the UN and waiting for [Russian president Vladimir] Putin -- the slowest ship in the convoy in reacting to the use of chemical weapons by Assad -- is a luxury we that we cannot afford."

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