Team of Rivals is one of the better books I've read lately. My favorite biographies use their subjects as a way to explore larger issues – the rough-and-tumble of politics in the first volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson, issues of race and the professionalization of sports in Randy Roberts biography of Jack Johnson, etc. The discussion of leadership in Doris Kearns Goodwin's book struck a couple of cords with me.
First, there are obvious contrasts to be drawn between the leadership styles of Lincoln with George Bush. How different would the world be today if George Bush had chosen more independent, stronger voices with which to surround himself? Would a Bush cabinet that included rivals such as McCain have made different choices? (Although, to be fair, recent news stories seem to show that some departed Bush cabinet members, such as John Ashcroft, may deserve more credit for independence than they have been given.) While I doubt the overall direction of policy would have been that different, I suspect the policies might have been implemented with more competence.
Second, as we continue to suffer through this extended presidential election cycle, with both parties fielding lots of candidates, I wonder if a similar team could be assembled from either party. I doubt that Bill Richardson, for example, will be able to win the Democratic party's nomination, but his resume makes him an intriguing choice for the cabinet in a Democratic administration. Could Mitt Romney and John McCain coexist in the same Republican administration? All kinds of intriguing possibilities and combinations come to mind. Right now, the Democratic field looks like a deeper pool of talent to me than the Republican field, but there is a long way to go.