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Paul Rego, a political scientist at Messiah College in Grantham, Penn., largely agrees with Mr. Baick.

“While President Obama does not face the same cataclysmic events that Abraham Lincoln faced, or that FDR encountered in the form of the Great Depression and World War II, his challenges are many and significant,” Mr. Rego said in an email.

He said Mr. Obama “faces a hurdle that neither Lincoln nor Roosevelt had to overcome during the tumultuous years of their respective presidencies: divided government.” Today’s Democrats and Republicans differ so sharply about government’s proper role, Mr. Rego said. He said that Mr. Obama’s job “is actually harder than that of his most illustrious predecessors.”