Not only does Obama like to lead from behind on foreign policy but that is also his preferred leadership style when it comes to handling the economy. However, as Charles Krauthammer points out, "leading from behind" really means an abdication of leadership.
When things get tough, Obama likes to walk away from his role as leader. A prime example is when Obama was negotiating with the Republicans on a tax deal in December and he left Bill Clinton all by himself at a press conference to explain the deal to the public:
With the debt ceiling crisis, Obama has demonstrated the same leadership style of leading behind on the economy. When Obama was presented with a bipartisian plan that was approved by both Democrats and Republicans in the house, the President rejected it. Despite the fact that Obama has not offered a solution to this problem, except to insist that any deal contain tax increases, he decided to lecture Congress for being left out in the cold by Democrats and Republicans in Congress who are determined to solve this problem without Obama.
By whining like a girl about about not being involved in a deal between Democrats and Republican, his 15 minute speech had the opposite effect that he wanted. Instead of being invited back into the negotiations, Congress grew even more firm in shutting Obama out:
Obama’s Friday appearance had a gigantic unintended consequence. It brought members of Congress together. They decided to take control. The White House is now on the sidelines. Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders are negotiating directly with one another.
Obama's refusal to offer any plan himself and getting upset about being left out in the cold by Congress isn't just another example of him leading from behind. Obama isn't leading here. He's abdicating his duty to the point that he's becoming irrelevant on the debt ceiling crisis:
Obama repeatedly blasted Republicans for not agreeing with his approach while providing no plan at all, and modeled the need for compromise with … a campaign speech. Anyone listening to Obama’s fifth foray in front of the cameras this month — by far the most intense public-relations campaign Obama has conducted in more than a year — could be forgiven for wondering why the President didn’t spend at least some of that time actually developing and presenting his own plan.
The simple answer: Obama doesn’t want the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling, cutting spending, and/or raising taxes. This is what passes for leadership in the era of Hope and Change — voting present.
Obama has worked hard to make himself irrelevant over the last few weeks, and he’s about to get his wish.
Leading from behind is a weak but tolerable way to lead. However, abandoning your job as a leader is unacceptable. But Obama has gone beyond voting present on this issue, he's made himself irrelevant which is unforgivable politically or electorally.
Obama desperately wants to be reelected. Yet, he's demonstrating to the American people that he doesn't want to be a leader. What's worse, he's made himself irrelevant on one of the most important issues in American history. With a crappy economic record and the fact that the economy has never been a top priority of his administration, Obama will be a one term President.