1) 'Mosque' speech. Last year I mentioned that, off the top of his head, Barack Obama gave an answer about "American exceptionalism" that would be very hard to improve on even if you had weeks to edit and refine.
Obama's successive answers about the New York Cordoba House/"mosque" controversy, by contrast, could very easily be improved on. Proof is here, from Clive Crook, who writes the perfect paragraph that should have come out of the President's mouth. Too late to correct the earlier answers, but let this be a guide for the future.
2) US News Rankings. This is too snarled a topic for me to do more than mention at the moment. I speak as a one-time editor of US News who wrestled with "improving" those rankings through two annual cycles. (Locus classicus on this topic, by Amy Graham and Nicholas Thompson, here.) I always was impressed by Reed College's idiosyncratic and brave refusal to participate in the process. If more schools had done that early on, the ranking system could never have taken off. Now it's way too late for that strategy, and the only alternative is to encourage so many varied rankings that no one list has disproportionate effect.
Here on our site, Reed's current president, Colin Diver, explains how the process has gone from Reed's point of view. This is a reprise from a college-special issue of the magazine a few years ago, but the themes are evergreen. Bonus note: fans of J. Anthony Lukas's may-it-be-read-forever book Common Ground will recognize the name of Reed's president. In an entirely different life, Diver and his family were central figures in that book, which describes the political, racial, cultural, and class politics of the Boston school-desegregation battles of the 1970s.