And because both these presidents didn't have the strength of this brand of humility to actually be "bigger" by sharing political capital when they were "big" in the polls, they became smaller over time and were left with diminished stature and a dysfunctional system in Washington even more polarized than when they arrived.
A leadership model based in humility would have practiced a means of governing through some form of national unity on big values and issues. And this would have moved the country and our politics forward, and given each of them a lasting legacy we could all be proud of.
When President Obama was at his high point in the aftermath of his historic election in 2008, having defeated in resounding manner the Republicans, instead of bringing the opposition in and sharing power, he said, "I won" in response to entreaties on compromise. And each step forward from then on, many times in an arrogant fashion, the administration sought victories over a weakened and floundering political enemy. This isn't the path of humility, and it definitely isn't the way of uniting us all in common purpose.
My hope as we examine the emerging candidates for president in 2016, that we will look for this type of humility in our nominees of either party. When they are reaching highs in polls, they put a hand out to their opponents for dialogue and discussion. That when they are strong politically, they go about lifting up the weak and beaten down. And if a leader can stand up at the height of popularity, and reach across the aisle, then we will begin to believe that dysfunctional divisive fever in Washington, D.C. can break.
And at the point we will all see the bright horizon ahead for America. And each of us could then go out into the world engaging each other from a place of abundance rather than scarcity.
There you have it.
Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent.
Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.