1. One of the things I try to teach these days is the skills you need to be an effective leader in the public sector. You must have a passion for what you are doing. You must be a good listener. You must be a good consensus builder. You must understand that bringing people together and involving them actively in the process is a critically important part of your leadership. Finally, you must be a good communicator. None of these are easy, but all of them are important ingredients of effective political leadership.
2. I think the president has done a fine job under very difficult circumstances. He inherited a country that after eight years of the Bush administration had virtually thrown away all of the good things that had happened during the Clinton administration. We were going over the cliff economically. We had neglected our public infrastructure, and we had gotten ourselves involved in not one but two land wars in the Middle East, one of which was one of the dumbest things we had ever done. The fact that we have turned things around, are beginning to grow again and put people to work, and at the same time have been able to achieve something—health reform—that three previous presidents had been unable to accomplish is pretty remarkable.
3. The Republican party base has shifted dramatically to the right over the course of the past several years, and the new Republican members of Congress have a very strong set of beliefs which reflect the new Republican base. There are virtually no moderate Republicans left in Congress, especially in the House. That makes bipartisan consensus very difficult to achieve, particularly when the new Republicans support the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place. For that reason, my party had better get cracking on trying to turn the Congressional situation around in addition to reelecting the President. Otherwise, we are guaranteed another four years of partisan gridlock.