Friday, May 06, 2011

Department of nonsense I somehow missed ...

This is old news, but I just ran across it. Apparently New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza caused a stir in some right-wing circles by suggesting in print that President Obama's mode of operation in signing on to whatever it is the U.S. is doing in Libya was "leading from behind."

Here's a snippet of Tim Pawlenty, one of the Republicans scrambling to run for President denouncing Obama's approach to Libya:

...he subordinated our decision making and our options relative to Libya to a U.N. resolution and an international body, tying our hands to do the kinds of things that would actually make Gaddafi go in a timely and efficient manner. And it’s an untenable position for a U.S. president to be in ...

Pawlenty makes it clear that he doesn't cotton to any "leading from behind."

In an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, Lizza ascribed the phrase "leading from behind" to an unnamed "adviser" among the policy elite. The source apparently thought phrase was complimentary.

Where have these Republicans and Lizza been all their lives? "Leading from behind" is a commonplace concept wherever people are trying to encourage others to take responsibility for new endeavors. For goodness sakes, I taught "leading from behind" to campers going on hiking trips at summer camp over 40 years ago. Organizers routinely practice "leading from behind" as part of leadership development. The Prez was once a community organizer after all.

Once the phrase was made controversial, Ben Armbruster at Think Progress dug up this from one of the great organizers alive:

It’s interesting because there are lessons for leadership because the way you herd cattle is you lead them from behind. You find the most able and smartest cattle and have them lead the way. You empower them.

Nelson Mandela

Apparently Obama's rightwing critics have no concept of leadership more subtle than chest thumping.

None of this is to endorse Obama's policy in Libya whose outcome remains uncertain. But the butt-ignorance of how genuine leadership works among the other guys is stunning.

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