Many have scoffed at George McClellan as a general partly because it confirms their devotion to Lincoln by this expected exercise.(Emphasis added. )
That phrase defines the syndrome in a nutshell - as reflexive, emotional posturing.
Boyle sees a correlary to this, too:
Actually, [there] is a further development in the Lincoln-McClellan syndrome in which a school of historians is forever locked. The Lincoln-McClellan syndrome spreads into an East-West syndrome and in this exchange the Army of the Potomac is a bloody shuttlecock. The "Westerners" sneer that the army had never been fought all-out, that if a simple, direct, informal fighting general from the west was in command of the army, the war would have been over in a jiffy."If it were me defining the Lincoln syndrome, I'd make a first try this way: You have to believe that battles win wars and that battles of annihilation are possible; that there is no regenerative power in the rebellion by 1862; that the destruction of Lee's army is the equivalent of the destruction of the Davis government; that the Union's forces represent well-disciplined and equipped forces sufficient to this job; and that failure to use the abundant resources provided by the Union to achieve a battle of annihilation that eradicates Lee (= the Rebellion) represents some kind of personality disorder.
Obviously, I need to boil that down a little. In the meantime, I suppose I can use Boyle's formula .