They call it the will to power. The concept, studied at length by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, describes man's tendency to strive for positions of authority. The dynamic, the argument goes, is the same whether you are in a corporate boardroom, congressional chamber or even your everyday office where the stakes couldn't be more mundane. Because what matters most in all locales is who wants it more, and what each person is willing to do to make it to the top.
The experience of Barack Obama and John Boehner, two men no doubt prone to ambition, during the debt limit talks is actually more the exception than the rule. According to all reports, each had little interest in causing the other's political destruction. In fact, as elected officials, their true opponents were their more radical constituents who very much staked a claim to victory at all costs. Indeed, the fact that a normally procedural matter like the raising of the debt ceiling became the focal point of the debate is as good a case study as any about how a siege mentality can reign supreme.