The president's complete focus on Syria not only means he will have fewer opportunities to talk to the public about domestic priorities, but the media is focused on the drama building in Congress, too, drowning out any coverage of health care.
A cursory search for news stories on the health care law shows a paltry 50 articles. (That's bad news for the president because the articles contained good news for the health care law. A report found that premiums for the government-sponsored exchanges would be much more affordable than expected.) Comparatively, a simple Internet search for news articles on Syria resulted in more than 2,000 news stories.
"There's only a certain amount of bandwidth of issues that can be discussed on TV or voters will be talking about," Ornstein said.
Republican agenda at risk, too
While the president's fall agenda is at risk, the Republican agenda might suffer, too. Some of the most conservative members of Congress hoped to throw a massive wrench in the gears of Obamacare as they began to turn by attempting to defund the program.
Senators Rand Paul, R-Kentucky and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are among those taking part in a Tea Party Patriots rally to defund the program Tuesday in Washington. With Congress in its first week back from vacation and the agenda topped by Syria, it's likely to get little attention -- or the message could morph into an anti-Syria rally.
Congressional scholar Thomas Mann with the Brookings Institution said there could be a "silver lining" to Syria crowding out immigration and health care. He said the seriousness of the issue could make it more difficult for lawmakers to "engage in this kind of brinksmanship."