The "leading from behind" theme looks to be emerging as a conservative line of attack against President Obama. The phrase comes from an Obama adviser describing the Libya strategy in a New Yorker piece on foreign policy by Ryan Lizza. (Read it here.) The gist is that Obama is a pragmatist who recognizes that US power is declining and that a lot of people hate us. "Pursuing our interests and spreading our ideals thus requires stealth and modesty as well as military strength," writes Lizza. It's the anti-John-Wayne approach, adds the Obama adviser quoted earlier.
Yesterday, Charles Krauthammer weighed in at the Washington Post, criticizing the piece for turning a "foreign policy of hesitation" into a doctrine. "Leading from behind is not leading," Krauthammer writes. "It is abdicating." Now William Kristol at the Weekly Standard is on the case, sarcastically thanking Lizza for making clear that Obama is "shepherding" the country through this age of "appeasement and decline." He wants Republicans to take note: "How do you defeat a leader from behind? With a leader from the front." The party, therefore, needs a "workhorse, not a show horse." (Read more President Obama stories.)