Investigative journalist Richard Miniter's new book is out today—Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him. In it, he claims Barack Obama is "fully vetted" for the first time in history. He also claims Obama has been heavily influenced in his decision-making by women. This is not exactly a pro-Obama book.
From Miniter's website:
Leading from Behind reveals a president who is indecisive, moody, and often paralyzed by competing political considerations. Many victories—as well as several significant failures—during the Obama presidency are revealed to be the work of strong women, who led when the president did not: then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser and an Obama family confidante, whose unusual degree of influence has been a source of conflict with veteran political insiders.
Also in the book:
- The real reason for Valerie Jarrett’s strong hold over both Barack and Michelle Obama.
- ObamaCare wasn’t Obama’s idea. It was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. And the real reason he danced to her tune.
As Andy Soltis writes in The New York Post today, part of Miniter's story is that Hillary "talked a reluctant President Obama into killing Osama bin Laden — after the president canceled plans for the mission three times." Per Soltis, "The book cites an unnamed source in the Joint Special Operations Command as saying that Obama canceled a mission to kill bin Laden in January 2011, as well as another in February and a third in March."
According to Miniter, Obama had been afraid things might go horribly wrong in the raid, and that he'd get the blame for it if so, a concern allegedly held by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as well: “'She worried about a backlash against the president if the operation failed, or even if it succeeded,' the book says."
Clinton, per Miniter, took the other point of view, given her experience with Bill:
“She knew her husband had paid a political price for failing to stop bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks. She knew Obama’s presidency could be mortally wounded if he had bin Laden in his gun sights and didn’t fire,” the book says.
There's more than a censorious note here in the idea of a man being lead by women (how terribly emasculating, is the thinly veiled subtext; can this be considered leading at all?), but, whether Miniter's claims are true or not, isn't this pretty much the job of advisers, to help the president make good decisions and to present various sides of an argument? It's interesting to consider whether Miniter would put forth the same storyline if Obama's "powerful advisers" had been men. As for men helping the president: Obama relied heavily on the Navy SEALs who carried out the actual mission, and has thanked and credited them for that—does that mean he's leading from behind, too, or simply that everyone was doing his or her job?
The White House has said, for the record, that it's "utter fabrication” that Obama called off the raid three times, and via Nicholas Schmidle, writing in The New Yorker in August of 2011, Obama wasn't even given the option of of an attack on bin Laden until March. Minter says he stands by his sources. All this, after all, is publicity.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.