No matter what your opinion of Danny Williams, you can't take away the fact that he is a smart man.
More than smart, in the well-educated sense. But street wise, savvy, cagey - the kind of smarts you get from being astute and paying close attention to the situation and the people around you.
People appear to be perplexed that the premier left when he was, to quote pundits, "at the top of his game."
Just off from cinching another deal that may - if you are to believe the Conservative spin and choose to ignore the rational warnings of those who question the success of the Lower Churchill agreement and its intricacies - put money into provincial coffers or, at the very least, make work for hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans.
So why leave?
Because it was time to go.
Once a leader reaches a pinnacle, a height from which they cannot envision another success so great as the last, it is the appropriate time to bow out.
A smart leader knows that you can rest on your laurels for only so long. Heading into a third term of office is a crapshoot.
Leaders of the past know full well that public adoration is a given in the first term, a strong possibility in the second - if you manage not to bugger up too much and produce - and a roll of the dice in the third.
Williams came to power partly because of his resume, but also partly because people had been disillusioned by the Liberals under Brian Tobin.
Clyde Wells came to power because the electorate had become disillusioned with the Conservatives, under the leadership of Brian Peckford.
Peckford came to power after the reign of Conservative Premier Frank Moores simply because people still had the lingering aftertaste of the Liberal reign of Joe Smallwood - a man who because the poster child of paternalistic attitudes, atrocious deals and not knowing when to call it a day.
Williams, if he had hung around long enough, would likely have faced the same backlash; with people growing tired of his "I'm always right" attitude and his tirades against those who dared to oppose.
There are many 'to dos' on the list he left behind - moving the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the fishing industry from idea to action; rejigging the provincial waste management system - a process that has been riddled with stops and starts for the past decade; finding and retaining professionals for the health care system; cleaning up after Hurricane Igor, even, and assessing the provincial response and putting the final touches (and signatures) on the deal to develop Muskrat Falls.
Fact is, there is always a list of 'to dos' left behind when any leader leaves office. And projects completed, or on the table, don't necessarily have to do with the timing of the departure.
Sometimes it just comes down to that sixth sense politicians get when the tide of public opinion is about to turn.
The latest Churchill deal was not greeted with total, unquestioning, adoration. The mood of the public towards Williams was changing. The evidence of the change of mood was evident, apparently, in a recent opinion poll. His approval rating had dropped by a few percentage points.
Leaving was a savvy decision - getting out before the tide began to turn, before the adoring public began to look past his blinding successes to consider his failures. Besides, Williams was a 'big deal' man; not one to take to the nitty gritty of community level concerns. He simply didn't have the patience for small-town social issues.
Still, in deciding to go, Williams leaves a legacy for other leaders - at all levels of government and business.
Better to leave while you are at the peak of your public support, with your decision-making abilities razor sharp, held in the highest esteem by your colleagues and constituents, rather than stick around so long that you become a nuisance or, worse still, a pathetic joke.
There are many who would do well to follow Williams' example.