To be fair, my analysis failed to spell out Obama's first-term accomplishments, although I did acknowledge his 'enormous skills' and tried to focus readers on the distinction between good and great presidencies.

Say what you want to say about the rest of his presidency, including his tone-deaf response to Katrina and a war waged in Iraq on false pretenses, Bush connected with Americans in the aftermath of 9/11 because he looked as frail and unforgiving as we felt.

Christie led the way - with a bulldozer. The governor is blunt, brash, and self-consciously authentic, the antithesis to what turns off today's voters: flip-flopping politicians who speak in poll-tested platitudes. Yes, he's the anti-Romney.

Palin seems to have forgotten that her poll ratings have plummeted since the summer of 2011.

President George W. Bush won reelection in 2004 largely because he was seen as comfortable in his own skin, while rival John Kerry was viewed as a flip-flopping opportunist.

Got good news and bad news for you, Mr. President. The good news is that Chief Justice John Roberts just saved your legacy and, perhaps, your presidency by writing for the Supreme Court majority to rule health care reform constitutional.

The deck is stacked against Obama.

Andrew Jackson was the first president to claim that the desires of the public overrode Congress's constitutional prerogatives. Virtually every president since Jackson has claimed the mantle, even while lacking two ingredients of an electoral mandate: a landslide victory and a specific agenda.

A sagging economy, a soaring national debt, and an increasingly restive Congress pushed Obama to order troop reductions that are both deeper and faster than recommended by his military commanders.

Obama won the presidency on the strength of his message and the skills of the messenger. Now the talk of hope and change feels out of tune when so many Americans are out of work, over-mortgaged, and worried that life will be even tougher for their children.

The question is whether voters, particularly independents, believe that Obama truly values personal liberty and responsibility as much as the government-bought safety net.

President Obama is casting his lot in the middle of a debate as old as America itself: Are we rugged individualists pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps? Or are we a nation of community, all connected and counting on one another?

I'm hearing echoes of Bill Clinton, circa 1996, in President Obama's reelection rhetoric.

The fact that Obama is getting criticism from the left and the right might reflect his understanding of the underlying political dynamics.

In times of tumult, voters are likely to forgive a president, if not reward him, for compromises made in service of solutions.

The problem, gentlemen, is that Obama is right: The promise of upward mobility is dying in America, and no amount of political demagoguery will fix it.

Don't stigmatize in a rush to explain inexplicable evil.

Election night is the easiest time to act like a grownup.

Anything can go wrong in a debate, and Obama is not a perfect debater.

Voters don't have to love him, Romney advisers say, but they will respect him.

It's a deft trick to turn American exceptionalism into an exceptional political tactic.

The failure of the White House and Congress to seriously address the nation's fiscal situation is certain to broaden the belief among many voters that the U.S. political system is broken.

Every now and then, a presidential candidate surprises us with a truly human and honest moment.

Historians will likely give Obama credit for steering the country away from the brink of economic collapse in 2009.

In the time it takes to heat a TV dinner, Clinton had convinced me that he was the smartest person in the room and that I was the center of his attention. In the next 25 years, I would see countless others fall just as quickly to the Clinton Touch.

A concrete agenda and landslide victory might not even guarantee a president his mandate in a capital as polarized as Washington.

Obama considers himself above deal-making and back-slapping, political necessities he often delegates to Vice President Joe Biden and other lesser sorts.

'Argo,' 'Lincoln,' and 'Zero Dark Thirty,' three films honored with Best Picture Oscar nominations, lionize their Washington-anchored protagonists as crafty, competent, and virtually incorruptible.

In Washington, compromise has become a dirty word.

Perhaps we should wait until his second term begins before carving Barack Obama's face in Mount Rushmore. Is that asking too much?

It's an appeal as old as America and its presidency: This is an extraordinary country populated by hard-working, big-dreaming, freedom-loving people graced by God when they're not pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.

Romney and Democratic rival President Obama have led their partisan backers down a trail of lies, negativity and vacuous policies that seem certain to guarantee an angry electorate four more years of gridlock.

Obama will learn from his mistakes.

At the start of his second term, one wonders less about Obama's fitness than his willingness: Why doesn't he do more to build and maintain the relationships required to govern in era of polarization?

If Mitt Romney is vanilla, Chris Christie is three hefty scoops of Rocky Road topped with whipped cream, Red Bull, and gravel.

Like a cowboy saddling a bucking stallion, Republican leaders tried to tame the Tea Party while riding it to victories.

At his best, Obama promised to work with Republicans to reduce the deficit in a way that honors both individualism and community.

I've been leading newsrooms for a while now and it's been an honor serving as Editor in Chief of N.J., but I really think that my best shot at moving the needle in politics is by getting close to it - by reading, reporting, tweeting and writing.

Although we were never pals and occasionally butted heads, my relationship with Clinton and his wife, Hillary, made me a better journalist.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most influential woman in Washington - for what she has accomplished and for what she may yet do: win the presidency.

Climate change was a point of division between Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney. The president declared climate change a global threat, acknowledged that the actions of humanity were deepening the crisis, and pledged to do something about it if elected.

This is Romney's biggest political weakness. His policy flip-flops and the general sense that he's not comfortable in his own skin leads voters, including many supporters, wondering about his core values.

Once a popular Alaska governor with a modest record of accomplishment, Palin could conceivably revive her reputation in this era of short memories. But it's hard to imagine her name atop the GOP ballot in 2016, when a cast of heavyweights who sat out 2012 will be vying for the nomination.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt faced adversities that, in their times, seemed impregnable. Great presidents overcome great odds.

If acknowledging that racial misgivings and misunderstandings are still a part of politics and life in America, I plead guilty.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, most Americans find lice and colonoscopies more appealing than Capitol Hill.

We, the people. Manifest Destiny. Conceived in liberty. Fear itself. Ask not. Morning in America. United we stand. Yes, we can. In times of great change and tumult, presidents seek to inspire beleaguered Americans by reminding them of their national identity.

The 2016 presidential election is ripe for the emergence of a game-changing political leader who either dramatically reforms one of the existing parties or mounts an independent bid.

Somebody must be up and somebody must be down. Trouble is, campaigns are messy, subtle creatures that don't follow convenient narratives.