Does he succeed in his goal to "punish, deter and degrade" Syrian President Bashar Assad's military capability without support from the American public, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations or some of our strongest allies? Does Obama find a path to consensus on the budget, with a compromise that succeeds in raising the debt ceiling without rattling world markets and further damaging our credit rating with the threat or reality of default? And finally, does he convince enough people in the disappointed and distracted Obama coalition — young, African-American and Latinos — to sign up for coverage in the health insurance exchanges opening a month from Sunday?

So far the rollout has been a public relations disaster with delays, blown deadlines and waivers for business but not for individuals. No matter how many Katy Perry tweets the administration has inspired, it is well aware that forecasts estimate ObamaCare will make healthcare cost more and not less. If the administration fails to enroll several million new consumers as the sick enter the rolls with pre-existing conditions, the fear becomes a reality as we all pay more for our insurance.

As Republicans lost August to a fight over whether or not to shut the government down over defunding ObamaCare — instead of just talking up the need for a delay — the other headlines that got less notice were terrible. The new law was called "unaffordable" and projected to bring the low-wage workweek to a "record low," force layoffs, send physicians into early retirement, cause confusion, enrich lobbyists, and ease identity theft.

While keeping the government running, and the United States out of a new Mideast war,Obama will have to find time to make his signature achievement work. He doesn't have much time.

HAS IMMIGRATION REFORM BEEN SUFFOCATED BY THE DEBT FIGHT, SYRIA AND OBAMACARE ? AskAB returns Tuesday Sept. 3. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to Thank you.