The hard reality is that unless U.S. forces are under direct attack, voters will not support action.
President Obama has never accepted that he must take political heat for tough decisions as the price for occupying the Oval Office.
Now Secretary of State Kerry has misstepped. Stating that Syria could wiggle out by delivering its chemical weapons to international authorities, he has permitted Russia, which is most interested in diminishing U.S. status in Europe, to assert it can broker such a deal.
Syria may deliver some weapons, but negotiations over a verification system to ensure the delivery is complete will go on for months and may never conclude. In both Europe and America, opposition to military action will grow and if the president persists in advocating a strike, the U.S. will be increasingly isolated and unable to act effectively without putting its forces at unnecessary risk.
Syria's military assets will be well hidden; its air defenses hardened and the now-positioned Soviet armada will be able to pinpoint American naval movements for its military. Cruise missiles won't be enough and American pilots and seamen will be at great risk.
Had the president acted in August when Assad's use of chemical weapons was determined, he would have had more allied help and American forces would be less vulnerable.
Instead, the president may be forced to back down, leaving Assad in power and to his successor the very difficult task of rebuilding American credibility abroad.
Once again, the president gets an F for his management of the Syrian crisis.