Is the president a damaged hostage?

In general, I think Barack Obama has done a remarkable job as president during a time of unprecedented economic, security and political challenges. That’s to say, I disagree with some specific policies he’s followed — chiefly, the decisions to send additional troops to Afghanistan and, post-bin Laden, not wind down the war there very quickly — but think him a steady, strategic thinker and doer. Most Republicans, of course, have an entirely different view, but I find many and even most of the policy objections coming from Obama’s right insincere, disingenuous. At base, it seems to me that Republicans do not differ with Obama’s policies, which are quite moderate on the whole and even a shade toward the right here and there; they object to his existence. They simply want a Republican president and, it seems, will go to almost any length to get one. There are also objections to Obama’s leadership that come from his left. Most of them I put in the Unicorn League folder — meaning they complain that Obama hasn’t done something that will be accomplished only when the huge and secret population of publically spirited unicorns comes out of hiding and parades in neat rows from the White House to Capitol Hill. But here’s a post sent along by a friend about the “Barackholm Syndrome,” making a clever point that deserves at least consideration. That is: Has the scope, unanimity and persistence of the Republican opposition to anything — anything! — the president wants affected his psyche and made him less willing or able to press his own agenda aggressively? Going this intellectual route, of course, risks descending into psychobabble. Still, I thought the post by Robert Hall fascinating and worth a read (h/t Terry O’Rourke).

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