When I joined Bill Clinton's start-up presidential campaign in 1991, I was confident that women would play an ever more important role, but I never gave a minute's thought to what would happen if we won. When we did - and I became the first woman to serve as White House press secretary - it changed my life. But it didn't change the world.
While eschewing emotion - and its companion, vulnerability - Obama should be careful not to sacrifice empathy, the 'I feel your pain' connection that sustained Clinton. This connection is the shorthand people use to measure their leaders' intentions. If people believe you're on their side, they will trust your decisions.
I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn't. Hey, it made me a better leader: you have to take a lot of people's needs into account; you have to look down the road. Trying to negotiate getting a couple of kids to watch the same TV show requires serious diplomacy.
Campaigns often make standing on principle the highest of virtues - and listening to your opponents a sure sign of weakness. It's the virtual opposite of what it takes to succeed in office. Squaring the circle takes a powerful combination of skills. But presidents who can campaign and compromise are generally the most successful.
Obama seemed poised to realign American politics after his stunning 2008 victory. But the economy remains worse than even the administration's worst-case scenarios, and the long legislative battles over health care reform, financial services reform and the national debt and deficit have taken their toll. Obama no longer looks invincible.