There’s a lot of nonsense in this Slate article desperately trying to argue that no, really, it’s not a bad thing that Barack Obama can’t get anything done; but somehow this particular passage is particularly egregious.
“Leading from behind” is a necessary form of presidential leadership, but now it’s mostly become an epithet. No one would make a film about Lincoln’s passivity, though that was an essential part of his nature, and political genius.
Let me establish something about Abraham Lincoln, right here, right now: it is useless to discuss his Presidency in any terms besides that of military necessity. Everything that Abraham Lincoln did was designed to cleave to two basic objectives:
- Win the war in a way that would not require mass treason trials and proscription lists afterward.
- Do not let the Democratic party be in overall charge of #1, given that it was them that got the USA into this mess in the first place.
Everything. And when it came to the military, Abraham Lincoln was not ‘passive.’ What he was was quietly frantic to find a genuine military professional who could be trusted to competently prosecute the war along the lines represented by #1 & #2. It took him years, and multiple generals, to do that – and those generals invariably flunked the basic test of “take Abraham Lincoln’s objectives seriously.” Once Ulysses S. Grant hove into view, Lincoln cheerfully handed things off to him, sure – but that wasn’t passivity. That was good management.
Anyway. The rest of the article is simply pap, with a whole bunch of unexamined assumptions… but that part really bugged me, sorry. Stupid Gore Vidal…
— PG DeFreese (@RSBooBooKitty) May 3, 2013