HAVANA Think you're obsessed with President Barack Obama and the many challenges he faces at home and abroad?
Well, you're not alone.
Fidel Castro appears to have a fascination with the American leader that would make Obama Girl jealous, writing obsessively not only about his politics, but of his youth and vigor.
And unlike with past American heads-of-state he slammed President George W. Bush as a genocidal drunk Castro seems to genuinely like the fresh face in Washington.
Since handing over the Cuban presidency to his brother in February 2008, the 83-year-old has continued to publish his thoughts in essays called "Reflections of Comrade Fidel," which are dutifully printed in state media and read repeatedly on government-controlled radio and television.
Hardly a week goes by without a mention of his nemesis to the north, the most recent on Thursday. In an opinion piece that took up an entire newspaper page, Castro waxed philosophic about everything from Obama's Asia trip to his prospects for re-election.
Last month, Castro pronounced it a good thing that the American president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In September, he termed Obama's call-to-action on global warming courageous.
"It really is an obsession," said Ann Louis Bardach, a longtime Cuba observer and author of the recent book, "Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington."
She noted that Castro confessed to being riveted by coverage of Obama's January inauguration, which he told visiting Argentine President Cristina Fernandez made him very happy.
Obama Girl, a.k.a. model Amber Lee Ettinger, sang of her crush on the presidential candidate in bit of political satire that went viral on the Internet.
"I think he has genuine appreciation for Obama," Bardach said. "He sees in him a charismatic politician and brilliant strategist, and he admires that. Obama is a guy who came from nowhere and wasn't part of the establishment, just like Castro."
Opining on the actions of U.S. leaders is nothing new for Castro, who came to power when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the Oval Office and has been on the world stage long enough to see 10 other presidents in the same chair.
But in less than a year of near-constant commentary, Castro has called Obama intelligent, sincere, serene, courageous, honest and well-meaning. He praised his work ethic, pondered the historical nature of his barrier-shattering election and fretted that he might face assassination.
"I really hate to criticize Obama," Castro began apologetically in Thursday's column. "And I realize that that job in the United States is a giant headache."
Castro writes that he is impressed by the scope of Obama's agenda in Asia. The trip is scheduled to take the president to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea for bilateral meetings with world leaders and to participate in two regional summits.
"Perhaps no other U.S. president would be capable of committing to such an intense schedule," said Castro, who was known in his youth for his extraordinary stamina particularly when on the stump.
Still, the former Cuban leader can't help scolding Obama for continuing what he says is a U.S. tradition of strong-arm tactics and trickery. Castro criticizes him for maintaining the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay and for a pact with Colombia that allows American soldiers increased access to seven military bases in that country.
Some U.S. officials are skeptical of Castro's motives, noting the Cuban leader cannot be too critical of the first African-American president, who is wildly popular among Cuba's population. He also has had to formulate a fitting response to Obama's change in tone.
The American leader came to office promising to extend a hand of friendship to America's adversaries, but he has moved cautiously so far on Cuba. The administration has softened U.S. rhetoric toward the island and loosened some travel restrictions. But Obama has said he has no plans to lift Washington's 47-year trade embargo unless the single-party, communist state accepts some political, economic and social changes.
Cuba has indicated it has no plans to do anything of the sort, but that hasn't stopped the warm words.
By the end of Thursday's opinion piece, Castro seemed to have made up his mind: Obama is not perfect, but he's a lot better than the alternative.
Meaning to Castro that he won't last long atop the empire.
"Soon, the ultra-right of the United States will try to limit (Obama's) rule to four years," Castro warned, looking to 2012. "A Nixon, a Bush or somebody like Cheney will be the new president, and then the purpose of these unjustifiable military bases that threaten the peoples of South America will be very clear."