While it may be understandable, even admirable, to keep a distance from an unpopular Congress, my point is that it’s not good politics.

For Hagel, he now faces a rocky confirmation in part because he lacks allies on Capitol Hill: During his two terms in the Senate, Hagel rankled Republican and Democratic colleagues with a demeanor that suggested he was too good for them and their views.

For Obama, learning how to schmooze could mean the difference between a good and great presidency. Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton (to name just a few) were masters at building relationships that furthered their political aims. They dined and drank with lawmakers, and they ventured to Capitol Hill out of respect. Johnson was an aggressive phone-caller. Roosevelt mixed cocktails for guests. Clinton flattered House Speaker Newt Gingrich.