‘leading from behind the scenes’

David Remnick (New Yorker): …. ‘Leading from behind’ ….  The phrase ricocheted from one Murdoch-owned editorial page and television studio to the next; Obama was daily pilloried as a timorous pretender who, out of a misbegotten sense of liberal guilt, unearned self-regard, and downright unpatriotic acceptance of fading national glory, had handed over the steering wheel of global leadership to the Élysée Palace.

We were, as Mitt Romney put it, “following the French into Libya.” The President was “dithering,” Sarah Palin declared. John McCain wanted boots on the ground. ….. Rick Perry, for his part, shot an elephant in his pajamas.

Six months later, as Libyans rejoice at the prospect of a world without an unhinged despot, many of Obama’s critics still view a President who rid the world of Osama bin Laden (something that George Bush failed to do) and helped bring down Muammar Qaddafi (something that Ronald Reagan failed to do) as supinely selling out American power.

….. a more apt description, admittedly, would have been “leading from behind the scenes” ….

….. Nothing guarantees that Libya’s path will be straight and pacific …. But these emergent institutions were developed above all by Libyans, not by Ahmed Chalabi or the Central Intelligence Agency. They are indigenous; they have legitimacy.

….. The trouble with so much of the conservative critique of Obama’s foreign policy is that it cares less about outcomes than about the assertion of America’s power and the affirmation of its glory. In the case of Libya, Obama led from a place of no glory, and, in the eyes of his critics, no results could ever vindicate such a strategy. Yet a calculated modesty can augment a nation’s true influence. Obama would not be the first statesman to realize that it can be easier to win if you don’t need to trumpet your victory.

Full article here

12 Responses to “‘leading from behind the scenes’”

  1. 1 jacquelineoboomer
    August 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for this post, Chips. !!! Off to read the full article, but finally some of these professional writers are getting it, and calling out the Republicans (and, dare I say, those way on the other side).

    My favorite part, so far: “Obama would not be the first statesman to realize that it can be easier to win if you don’t need to trumpet your victory.”


    • 2 TrumpDog
      August 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      That was my favorite part as well.

      Too many – including the media – like theater. The president does not and is more interested in ACTION. This is why a lot of times Republicans end up with egg on their face.

    • 3 gcwp1
      August 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      That’s what my father mosts appreciates about Obama – he does not “brag” just does what has to be done.

      I am wondering if Tien is indeed correct below, that Americans are finally getting it. The Reps are throwing everything from their bag of outmoded tricks against the wall, but hopefully it is with diminishing gains. Perhaps that is partially reflected in the approval ratings. He fares not so well against generic Reps – habit – but well against specific candidates – reality.

      OK, been in the dark for a day – going to feel some sun on my face.

      Thanks to this community for reaching out to those affected by Irene.

  2. August 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I think the Republicans get more wrong than needing to trumpet victory from the mountaintop, chest thumping and grandstanding. They seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that the American Public is sick to death of war right now. This emerging result in Libya is *exactly* what the American people want. They wanted to be reassured that we weren’t going to have boots on the ground and get embroiled in yet another quagmire of epic proportions. The Republicans might be deliriously happy with bashing the President for not doing things their way, but the American people are just glad that we’re not up to our eyeballs in Libya. That is the result that matters. The result of freeing the Libyan people and getting rid of Qadaffi is a distant second. No matter what happens in Libya now, we’re not there. Period.

  3. August 29, 2011 at 11:57 am

    “The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use – of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.” – Robert F. Kennedy
    IMHO PBOgot it right.

  4. 6 Lize in San Francisco
    August 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    David Remnick is stellar. His book “The Bridge” is an amazing look at President Obama’s life-experience and the American Civil Rights movement. Taught me a lot.

    • 7 Sue in Minnesota
      August 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      I thought his book was excellent, and really elevated the importance of this Presidencey to the continuing progress of the Civil Rights Movement. I know after reading it I was so upset with myself for not, by this stage in my life, having a deeper understanding of how far we as a nation had yet to go. Much of President Obama’s disrespectful treatment is born from racism and bigotry, not all, but alot. I believe despite the ugliness of it, it has to be exposed if we ever are to accompolish true progress and healing. It is a bitter and unfair pill, that seems to me we have to be willing to swallow if are going to heal. It is such a shameful part of our reality, I wish it were not so.

      • 8 Eleroy
        August 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm

        I was quite miffed with David Remnick when he was picked by Time magazine to write the blurb on President Obama in the people of the year edition 2 years ago i think!!! His write-up was gratuituous in its dismissive and demeaning tone. Almost like David was doing sommersaults just so as not to be accused of kissing up to President Obama. he instead went the more disrespectful and cynical path!!!
        I refused to buy his book after that. F**% him!!!

  5. August 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    The GOp will never give him credit because they fear his power over the country and the world. The Bridge by remnick gicidea what Obama had to thru growing up.
    We are the ones who have to push back to the pundits on the lies. MSM is owned by GOP. If this had been england we would have been out of recession by now.
    Some in the Democratic party do not want him to succeed as well as he wants to change how congress does business with lobbyists.

  6. 10 utaustinliberal
    August 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Good article. President Obama in a no drama fashion has achieved great success domestically and internationally. He doesn’t need to yell from the rooftop or strut with his chest out like a rooster. There’s no need for that. The facts speak for themselves. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If this is “leading from behind” We Want More Mr. President!

    • 11 Sue in Minnesota
      August 30, 2011 at 10:58 am

      I’ld say our President leads from the front!……..Repulicans don’t recognize true leadership, only strong armed, agressive and oppressive approaches. They are not invested in leadership, they are invested in power, control and dominance. Fuck them…they are not going to dominate us.

      • 12 Karen Sr.
        August 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

        “…they are invested in power, control and dominance.” You hit the nail on the head, Sue. I remember when the President was being introduced to Parliament before his speech to that body, the man (forgot his position & his name) making the introduction said, “If you want to know a man’s character, give him power.” Our President is a man of remarkable character.

Comments are currently closed.







Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.



RSS Obama White House.gov

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS WH Tumblr

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Steve Benen

  • United States sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine
  • 'Boys in Blue' follows police and student athletes in Minneapolis
  • Congress at stalemate on debt ceiling legislation
  • Cross-generational 30/50 Summit headed to Abu Dhabi
  • Suze Orman: How to shield finances amid a recession



Blog Stats

  • 43,328,761 hits

%d bloggers like this: