This chunk from the above titled article (which is actually more intelligent and less partisan-bickery than it sounds) really grabbed me:
Skowronek’s key insight is that a president’s ability to establish his political legitimacy depends on where he sits in “political time”: Is he allied with the dominant regime or opposed to it, and is the regime itself powerful or in decline?
For example, Lyndon Johnson was allied with the Democrats’ New Deal regime, while Richard Nixon — the second Republican elected after FDR — was opposed to it. And the regime itself can either be resilient or vulnerable. For example, Harry Truman became president when the New Deal regime was robust, while Jimmy Carter took office when it was on its last legs.
A president who has the good luck to run in opposition to a political regime that is falling apart is in the best possible position politically. He can sweep away the old and begin a new regime with a new set of political assumptions. Such “reconstructive” presidents seize the opportunity provided by being in the right place at the right political time; they create a new political reality that their successors inhabit. Franklin Roosevelt was able to blame Herbert Hoover and Republican ideology for the country’s predicament during the Great Depression, just as Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter and the Democrats during the economic difficulties of the late 1970s. Reconstructive leaders — Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan — are generally regarded both as pivotal in American history and among the country’s most successful presidents.
Conversely, the unluckiest presidents — like Hoover and Carter — are those with the misfortune to be associated with a political regime in rapid decline. Skowronek calls these presidents “disjunctive,” because they cannot hold their party’s factions together, and things fall apart. These presidents are usually judged failures, and they place their successors in the best possible position to pick up the pieces and reconstruct politics in a new way.
Why the GOP Should Fear a Romney Presidency [The Atlantic]