Not only is President Obama leading from behind, now he’s leading from behind Bill Clinton.If you want to talk about what's actually going on in Syria and what the United States ought to do about it, please go to the earlier post on the subject. This new post is for talking about those 4 Maureen Dowd sentences. I'll start off the conversation with a list of 10 things.
After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom....
The less Obama leads, the more likely it is that history will see him as a pallid interregnum between two chaotic Clinton eras.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And so does Bill Clinton.
1. The phrase "leading from behind" has always seemed funny to people. If you're behind, you're not in front, so how is that leading? Those who like Obama think it's clever/intriguing. Those who are literal-minded — and notice imagery — focus on the word "behind."
2. To take "leading from behind" and then put Barack behind Bill is to demand that we picture the 2 men in a physical position and — particularly with the amusing phrasing and because we're talking about Bill Clinton — to experience the sexual innuendo.
3. Said innuendo is violently intensified by the phrase: "shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom."
4. If Barack is behind Bill, then how did Bill shove Barack? Maureen is not fully in control of her imagery.
5. Got to give Maureen points for the poetic proximity of the verbs "dither" and "slaughter."
6. The dithering is Barack's. The (unlinkable) OED says "dither" originally meant, in dialect, "to tremble, quake, quiver, thrill."
7. "Pallid" means " Lacking depth or intensity of colour; faint or feeble in colour; spec. (of the face) wan, pale...." That's quite something, saying that history will remember The First Black President, Barack Obama, as pale-faced!
8. Barack is pallid compared to Bill. Maureen is taunting Boyfriend Barack: He's not as manly as Boyfriend Bill, who might just get to be her boyfriend again.
9. Pallid interregnum. "Pallid" is a poetic word, and Maureen is doing various poetic turns. I know what "interregnum" means, but I also hear near-puns, and we've got leading from behind and shoving in the bedroom and 2 boyfriends, one of whom is portrayed as subordinate.
10. And that brings us to "vacuum," an empty space. One might say a hole, which you know Bill Clinton feels compelled to fill.