You may remember that during the presidential campaign Obama revealed he was reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's book on Lincoln, 'Team of Rivals' (posted on here). Most commentators saw it as prefiguring Obama's inclusion of Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates in his cabinet (Lincoln had brought on board rivals as well as talented people associated with parties other than his own).
All well and good. But I think people should take another look. In the course of his career, as recounted by Kearns Goodwin, two things worked ceaselessly in Lincoln's favour. Firstly, his almost superhuman patience and restraint exercised in the face of all sorts of pressure. He was willing to wait for the time to be ripe before striking, willing to ride out short-term setbacks. Secondly, his opponents constantly underestimated him, mistaking his circumspection for weakness and indecisiveness.
Ring any bells?