Would Mitt Romney Sneer At Nelson Mandela For Leading From Behind?

Mitt Romney announced in a speech today in New Hampshire that he is running for president. On foreign policy, the former Massachusetts governor hit all the silly Fox News-inspired, attack-Obama talking points, such as the claim that the president went around the world apologizing for America. And he even threw out some of the false attacks of Obama on Israel. Interestingly though, he also mocked the administration’s so-called “leading from behind” strategy on Libya:

ROMNEY: A few months into office, he traveled around the globe to apologize for America. At a time of historic change and great opportunity in the Arab world, he’s hesitant and uncertain. He hesitated to speak out for the dissidents in Iran. His administration boasts that he is leading from behind in Libya. He speaks with firmness and clarity however, when it comes to Israel. He seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our long-time friend and ally. He’s treating Israel the same way so many European countries have, with suspicion and distrust and an assumption that Israel is somehow at fault.

Watch it:

Neocons first got wind of this strategy after a New Yorker article quoted an anonymous Obama adviser describing the President’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” The right-wing thought they’d stumbled upon a real gem. Among the trove of mockery, Commentary’s John Podhoretz claimed it damages Obama’s “chances for reelection” because it will be “thrown in his face.” This seems to be exactly what Romney was trying to do. But as this blog has documented, Romney seems to be unaware that he’s taking a shot at Nelson Mandela, who has also advocated this kind of leadership style:

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

And as the President’s decision to take out Osama bin Laden demonstrates, sometimes he’s out front when it’s dangerous, but lets others take the lead when its appropriate — precisely what Mandela was talking about.


Even Condoleezza Rice thought Obama’s strategy on Libya was a good one. “I think it’s good that others can take lead like the British and French,” she said on CNN last month.

But for Romney and those on the right that want to score political points in bad faith, reflexive attacks appear to be preferable over thoughtful discourse.