Roger Simon: Maybe we should save our own children first
"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe," Obama said. "This is how we will be judged."
He said it about the 20 American children who went to school at Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14, 2012, and never came home. They were all 6 or 7 years old.
We were appalled. Disgusted. Angry. And change was going to happen. As a nation, we were sure of it.
This time, however, in Syria, because the weaponry was gas instead of bullets, we are supposed to be ultra-shocked.
Obama's 15-minute speech from the East Room on Tuesday night was unusually cinematic.
The terrible nature of conventional weapons - say, a semi-automatic assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine, the possession of which is absolutely legal in most of America - pales in comparison, I guess.
"Indeed, I'd ask every member of Congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?" Obama said.
Two days after the Sandy Hook massacre, Obama went to Newtown and, in his speech, repeated the first name of every slain child.
"God has called them all home," he said. "For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."
Congress, our least functional branch of government, has done nothing worthy of the victims of Sandy Hook and nothing to prevent more Sandy Hooks.
"America is not the world's policeman," Obama said. "Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong."
But, he said, "when with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death . I believe we should act."
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist.