BY GEORGE E. CONDON JR., The National Journal
Barack Obama started worrying about the loneliness of the presidency even before he was elected in 2008. In the years since, it has been a recurring theme as he battled the isolation of the office and struggled to liberate "the bear" from his cage. Now, with the departure of one of the few personal friends he named to his Cabinet, the president may find himself even further isolated as he completes his sixth year in office.
Eric Holder, who is stepping down as attorney general, has been more than just an appointee. There was never any question that Obama was the boss. But Holder always was able to speak up to the president; he was someone the boss was comfortable having around him. In part, that kinship came from the obvious link between the first African-American president and the first black attorney general. In part, the comfort came from the close friendship of their wives. And, in part, it came from a shared agenda.
At the official announcement of his resignation, Holder made an emotional reference to his personal relationship with Obama while the president stood by his side. "We have been great colleagues," Holder said. "But the bonds between us are much deeper than that. In good times and in bad, and in things personal and in things professional, you have been there for me. I am proud to call you a friend."