Suddenly, President Obama seems to be everywhere, beating the drum about the need to attack Syria. His appearances show how much trouble he is in politically and illustrate how urgent his search has become for lifelines as he tries to muster support for a plan to intervene militarily against the Damascus regime.
First of all, Obama is courting members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, both allies and adversaries, even though he has developed few deep relationships with them over the years and the legislators have no personal reason to give him the benefit of the doubt on Syria.
He is scheduled to visit with Senate Democrats at their weekly policy luncheon Tuesday. And he also invited himself to a luncheon meeting with Senate Republicans Tuesday. Surprised GOP leaders said he'd be welcome but there seemed to be little chance that he would change many minds, not with public opinion hardening against the military strikes Obama is calling for.
And of course Obama is scheduled to address the nation about Syria Tuesday evening. He wants to punish the Damascus regime for allegedly using chemical weapons in a large attack last month that killed hundreds of women and children, and he is seeking congressional authorization to do so.
On Monday, the president and White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, some of his staunchest supporters. The fact that he felt the need to shore up this base among the African-American legislators showed the depth of his predicament.
Trying to expand his support, he also gave interviews to six television networks in which he urged Congress and the public to back his plan to use force in Syria.
Obama welcomed a new initiative by Russia to persuade the Syrian regime of ruler Bashar Assad to surrender its chemical weapons to an international group. But the president said he was skeptical that Russia and Syria were interested in a genuine effort to destroy those weapons or take them out of Assad's arsenal. Obama's aides said it might be a ploy to delay the U.S. military strikes. Russia is a longtime ally of Syria.
Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who supports limited strikes against the Assad regime, told CNN that the Obama administration has an "obligation to test the Russians" and make sure they are making a reliable offer to defuse the crisis.
But Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said the White House has changed its explanations for the Syrian intervention too many times and hasn't provided proof that Assad was behind the chemical attacks. Grayson told CNN that Obama seemed to be heading toward starting "a dumb war" that would be "counterproductive."
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.