No modern American president has ever been granted the opportunity President Obama received to preside over explosive economic growth while in office if he had simply left well enough alone.
Consider this: Politically speaking, if a president assumes office during a recession, the luckiest time for him to do so is around twelve months in, when the economy is near rock-bottom and ready to come roaring back. If he plays his cards right, he can take credit for some of the recovery by claiming that his policies contributed to it. What’s least fortunate is to assume office near or before the start of a recession, because then the downturn occurs entirely under his watch and everyone blames him for it.
Harry Truman took office two months into the 1948 recession—a precarious position, because unemployment plunged for a year under his watch before recovering. Eisenhower assumed office six months before the 1953 recession and was forced to serve as the face of twelve months of decline.