I keep hearing from arroyo's supporters (and some of her critics) saying na Arroyo must be a brilliant politician since she's still in power even though she has no right to be there.
(i guess that would make a Lukashenko or a Marcos smart politicians too for them to stay as long as they have no, Ambassador Kristie Kenney?)
But it wasn't always like that for her. I remember the screwups and the silly political moves she made when Dante ang was still her adviser. "Ina ng Bayan", "Ate Glo", and the "Tulungan nyo ako" commercial where she emotes (w/ soft lights) in front of the camera were some of the examples that came to my mind.
But I think may nagbago sa loob ng admin nung natanggal si Dante Ang at si Rigoberto Tiglao as Information minister, at napalitan sila ng bagong team nina Ermita, Mike Defensor, Norberto Gonzalez. These guys i admit are smarter, more formidable, nastier, and more agressive in going after Arroyo's enemies.
(And if you don't believe me about what Spice boy Mike Defensor is capable of, remember that this guy lead a team to "recover" Lacson's prime Pidal witness Mahusay for the Arroyo admin. witness tampering yan at obstruction of justice di ba? But the guy is still there working as Malacanang's chief-of-staff. don't underestimate him.)
So is Arroyo a smart politician? She's smart for hiring the current people.
Arroyo's defenders will point out that she's well educated. Of course, we all know that... but so was Marcos. But at least marcos has charisma and was a skilled politician.
Is arroyo nasty and ruthless? Well it depends on where she's getting her advice from -- the luvable Dante Ang or the Machiavellian Eduardo Ermita.
Does she have great leadership skills? As far as I can tell, konti lang. I have not seen it during Dante Ang's time, and I still don't see it now during ERmita/Defensor/Gonzalez operation. A significant majority of the public don't trust her, and believe she's stole the presidency.