Obama will always be our first black president. But can he be one of our few great presidents? He is going to have his chance because our greatest presidents are those who assumed the office at some of our darkest hours and at the bottom of some of our deepest holes.
â€œTaking office at a time of crisis doesnâ€™t guarantee greatness, but it can be an occasion for it,â€ argued the Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel. â€œThat was certainly the case with Lincoln, F.D.R. and Truman.â€ Part of F.D.R.â€™s greatness, though, â€œwas that he gradually wove a new governing political philosophy â€” the New Deal â€” out of the rubble and political disarray of the economic depression he inherited.â€ Obama will need to do the same, but these things take time.