What do Republicans have to do to make a comeback?
They’ve got to be an open party. They need to be a welcoming party. Right now there’s almost a litmus test if you want to be a Republican: against abortion, against taxes. That may make you a nice private club, but it’s not going to allow you to win the majority, and ultimately parties are about winning elections.
Any regrets about retiring from Congress?
There are three ways to leave office, and two of them aren’t very pleasant. I’m leaving on my own terms, and that’s the way you want to do it. I don’t regret for a minute my decision to leave. Take a look at the change in the political winds. I’m not an obstructionist, which is basically what Republicans are going to be over the next couple of years. I’m almost 60—if I’m ever going to make any money, I need to get out now.
Any advice for the Nationals?
The dumbest thing they did was trade Brian Schneider and then sign Paul Lo Duca. Ryan Zimmerman is the most underpaid player in the major leagues right now, so he needs to be re-signed.
What have you learned?
First, there’s a lot I don’t know. You ought to be constantly asking questions.
Second, you need to take people as they are. Don’t try to change them; don’t try to wish they would do something. Just take them as they are and deal with them.
Third, up here on Capitol Hill, you’ve got to be patient, and getting angry is never beneficial.