Robert J. Samuelson’s Jan. 21 op-ed column, “History could foil the quest for greatness,” was one of the most churlish pieces I have ever read. Poor Barack Obama, to have the bad luck to serve as president at a time when our country does not face “a mortal peril” — thereby, according to Mr. Samuelson, preventing Mr. Obama from achieving “greatness.”

Apparently, Mr. Samuelson thinks the 2008-09 financial crisis does not rise to the level of peril. Many would disagree. That was a mighty dangerous circumstance we — and the world — faced. Had it gone unaddressed, the future of not only the United States would have hung in the balance. But Mr. Obama helped defuse that peril.

All things considered, Mr. Obama has been a fine president. He has many accomplishments and will have many more.

Diane Stamm, Washington