Chris Matthews, who has been active in the political scene for decades, shows a good (if poorly expressed) understanding of how a lawyer from WWII general or an actor from California can play the right political cards to win the presidency. In his book "Hardball", Matthews asserts that the game of politics to be one more of subtle nuances and individual technique than a matter simply of luck or formula, as many people are inclined to believe. A candidate must show ambition and a natural knack for leadership to even stand apart from his peers. He must have good communication skills, whether on the personal level or on the group level. And perhaps most importantly, he must be willing to compromise, to work with delegates both from his own party and with the opposition, and must do so in such a way that his enemies somehow feel indebted to him.
Once an aspiring politician has mastered these lesser-known tricks of the trade, he is ready to play "hardball" politics.
Matthews' anecdote about Lyndon B. Johnson's first foray into politics, as a secretary for a representative during the Great Depression, is one example of how a person may become a leader simply by demonstrating leadership qualities. The young Johnson, staying in the same hotel as many of the other congressional secretaries, made it his mission to meet and befriend each and every one of them. Though he picked an unlikely method in which to accomplish his goal, his "innovative" methods paid off when three months later he was elected leader of the House staff assistants. Once Johnson proved that he was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish his goals, the people around him saw that he was a strong leader, and thus selected him over his peers.