OBAMA: [staring out window, talking to himself] If I attack Syria, the Russians will delay talks on U.S. nuclear disarmament to punish me. If I don’t attack Syria, I’ll get nailed by Rick Perry for being all chat and no battle. If I attack Syria . . .
JOE BIDEN: [just arrived] Jay, what’s going on?
CARNEY: He’s thinking out loud about what to do, sir.
OBAMA: . . . maybe scare him enough into abdicating. If I don’t attack Syria, the North Koreans will know I’m a wimp and launch an invasion of South Korea. If I attack Syria . . .
BIDEN: How long has this been going on?
CARNEY: Almost four hours now.
OBAMA: . . . I’d be aiding al-Qaeda, and maybe they’d be grateful and just attack foreign airlines with those surface-to-air missiles they got in Benghazi. If I don’t attack Syria . . .
VALERIE JARRETT: Sir, sir, you need to make a decision.
OBAMA: . . . I won’t be stuck in the Situation Room this weekend and I can play golf. If . . .
MICHELLE: [shaking the president] Barack! Choose!
OBAMA: All right. All right.
CHUCK HAGEL: Your orders, sir.
OBAMA: One, send a third carrier group to the Eastern Med. Declare the waters around all three no-fly zones. That includes our aircraft.
Two, request that Israel airdrop into Syrian rebel-held territory enough gas masks for every man, woman, and child.
Three, check with Assad’s military people: perhaps they were aiming the poison gas missiles at rebel units and accidentally hit civilian neighborhoods. Offer the services of our experts to troubleshoot their targeting systems.
Where is U.N. Ambassador Powers this morning?
JOHN KERRY: On a cruise to Bermuda, sir.
OBAMA: When she returns, instruct her to call for a special session of the Security Council. We are going to take the lead in this crisis.