For Barack Obama and F.D.R. before him, "national economic disaster was electoral good fortune," says Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker. But F.D.R.'s luck lasted while Obama's ran out right after he was elected. Roosevelt became president three years into the Great Depression, but Obama took office just as the Great Recession started hurting. Here's an excerpt:

By the time Roosevelt moved into the White House, what had begun as a financial panic had become an existential threat. The Great Depression had fully taken hold. Its effects had been felt for years. No one could argue that the new President or his party was to blame for it, or that getting out of it would be a quick or easy task.

The rough equivalent of the ’29 crash—the collapse of Lehman Brothers—took place on September 15, 2008, the day that John McCain declared that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” It was a mere seven weeks until Election Day.

Obama is no more to blame for the Great Recession than F.D.R. was for the Great Depression. But the longest and deepest mass suffering has occurred with Obama in the White House and Democrats holding a majority in (if not always in control of) our two national legislatures.

Read the entire article in The New Yorker.