Ed Driscoll

Obama, 'Leading from Behind'

Smart Power! John Podhoretz reads the New Yorker so you don’t have to, and quotes Ryan Lizza’s article on Obama’s foreign policy. And voila! A meme is born:

The most-discussed article of the week will surely be Ryan Lizza’s report on the development of the Obama foreign policy in the New Yorker, called “The Consequentialist.” The notable quote in the piece comes at the end:

Nonetheless, Obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. One of his advisers described the President’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” That’s not a slogan designed for signs at the 2012 Democratic Convention, but it does accurately describe the balance that Obama now seems to be finding.

Podhoretz responds:

The crystallizing phrase “leading from behind” may not be something you’ll see on a sign at the 2012 Democratic convention, but it will almost certainly be in the acceptance speech of the nominee of the Republican party at its 2012 convention, and will be thrown in Obama’s face during the presidential debates by his GOP rival, and will be the centerpiece of the critique of Obamaism going forward. It’s so revealing, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the White House goes on a hunt to find the person who said it in order to defenestrate him before he does more colossal damage to his boss’s chances of reelection.

Meanwhile, at ABC today, “House Speaker John Boehner to President Obama: ‘Come on! Time to Grow Up’ About Deficit and Taxes.”

Just cut off the last four words of that headline, and you’d have an excellent summation of the last two and a half years.

But then, as Podhoretz wrote this past September, “Something weird happens when presidencies go wrong:”

Presidents become incompetent at doing the things they were always able to do in their sleep, and their aides follow suit. I noted this when I wrote my first book, Hell of a Ride, about the decline and fall of the first President Bush, back in 1993. When Bush spoke, it rained, and his advancemen weren’t quick-thinking enough to move his events indoors. When he went to Japan on a state visit, he vomited.

Obama is heading in that direction right now.

And speaking of “Leading from Behind…”