TODAY   |  September 11, 2013

David Gregory: Obama speech undercuts his goals

“Meet The Press” moderator David Gregory tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that the president’s speech about delaying action undercuts his recent urgency for Congress and citizens to support action against the regime.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> david gregory is the moderator of meet the press. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> there was something unusual if not surreal about this speech. normally when we see a commander and chief address the american people it's a moment of action or urgency or immediately following a moment of action like the killing of bin laden , this speech had no such moment and it almost felt dated. would you agree?

>> i would and it almost seemed out of sequence until now as a lot of this has been up until now. he had a speech set to build the case in the public and in congress for military strike and comes out and says i don't want to do anything right now. the speech was ability requesting delay, in effect giving time for it's diplomacy to work. that's the strange part and i think that it undercuts his own goal of trying to build support and the moral case for a strike.

>> what caused this moment of pause, as peter alexander mentioned was the russian proposal to have assad turnover his chemical weapons . does the administration have any confidence that assad will comply with this or they'll be able to verify his compliance?

>> there's also skepticism for sure but also a glimmer of hope. maybe the administration finds itself in a position where with the threat of force, you could actually have the goal achieve which had is to deter and degrade assad 's chemical weapons cash and maybe have them removed all together. there are so many difficulties associated with that and there are trust issues. not just with assad but frankly with putin who took a rather offhanded comment by secretary of state kerry and decided to run with it and say this is a diplomatic opening. there's a lot of questions to be answered.

>> let's say assad turns over his chemical weapons . stepping back over that so-called red line . what is to stop him from saying i'm back on the right side of the red line but i'm going to escalate my attacks on my own people and opposition using conventional weapons ?

>> i think it's an important point matt and as i was monitoring twitter last night there were some saying does it bother anybody that basically we would count the death of 100,000 civilians with conventional arms and only act when it comes with chemical weapons and even then the case isn't made. and even if you were to get rid of the chemical weapons there will still be no punishment for what he has done. that's what the red line was about. if you're moving them around or utilizing them that would change the equation of the administration. he maybe in position to get away with that.

>> david gregory . thank you. good