I'm saying this now as a Republican: I think he's done surprisingly well on issues like Iraq and Afghanistan, where he has stood up to the left wing of his party. Certainly in Iraq, it's been different than what he emphasized during the campaign. On the economic issues, I would disagree with him, but he is basically doing what he said he would do and he won the election.
The whole thing with the CIA interrogation memos—I disagree with him policy-wise, but he seems to have lost control of the issue. He thought, I believe, that he could split the difference by releasing the memos and then that would end all requests for an investigation. So he would satisfy the liberal wing with the memos, but assure the intelligence community by saying there would be no investigations. Instead, it set in motion what we've seen, where there's more requests for investigations than ever. Now he seems to be reversing again—on this issue, he has not at all been sure-footed.
As far as dealings with Congress, he's done very well. When he came and met with the Republicans, for example, it is helpful to him in the long run. I thought the media was shortsighted when they said, “Well, he met and they all voted against him so it was a failure.” I think he's looking at it as a four-year deal and not a one-time deal. It will be useful in the future with issues more complex than the stimulus that could cross party lines; it will make it easier to work with Republicans then. The fact that he established some relations earlier is going to make it possible for him to get better results.
I know people who knew him in Illinois and they say he instinctively wants to work with people across the aisle. How that always plays itself out, I don't know, but he's not an ingrained partisan. Sometimes it's hard to make those bipartisan feelings add up to much, but over time they do add up to something.