Remember, when it comes to Assad, President Obama is approaching the end of a revolution in thinking.
President Obama came into office as someone who thought he could talk to Assad and as the head of a party whose leaders believed Assad was someone America could do business with. We believed Assad had chemical weapons though Assad never admitted this.
Then came the revolution and President Obama said Assad had to go. Indeed, President Obama even warned Assad not to use chemical weapons in order to cling to power.
Recently, President Obama and his administration portrayed Assad and his use of chemical weapons as a threat so great that we had to strike Assad quickly.
Now, even after Assad has used chemical weapons multiple times, President Obama says that we can talk to Assad through Russia as long as Assad says he gives up his chemical weapons. Russia's price for this deal will be Assad's survival, of course.
So Assad will survive. Russia will gain stature in the Middle East. Syrians will have died in large numbers in a failed revolution that will keep the people beaten down for another generation. Jihadis will scatter back to their homelands to sow mayhem. And other than a reputation for failing to oppose enemies, all we will have is a paper WMD disarmament deal (in English and French, so Kerry can read either one!) that the next president will still be trying to verify as completed.
The revolution will be over and we'll be back to where we started
And this will be called smart diplomacy.