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. It’s a different definition of leadership than America is known for, and it comes from two unspoken beliefs: that the relative power of the U.S. is declining, as rivals like China rise, and that the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. Pursuing our interests and spreading our ideals thus requires stealth and modesty as well as military strength. “It’s so at odds with the John Wayne expectation for what America is in the world,” the adviser said. “But it’s necessary for shepherding us through this phase.”
—Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, May 2
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s riff:
Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Obama Adviser Speaking on Background to Ryan Lizza. Thank you for so boldly and visibly injecting into our politics the phrase “leading from behind.” Thank you for associating it with your boss. Thanks for confirming that our current president believes his task is to accommodate American decline. Thanks for reminding us how high a priority he places on appeasing those who revile us. And thanks for explaining that our Leader from Behind sees his role as “shepherding us through this phase” of appeasement and decline.
It just gets stupider from there.