With more time for arithmetic, the president could have pointed to the stock market. Although it fell measurably last week, after the 60 Minutes questioning, the Dow still closed Friday at 13,437.13, a gain of 69.1 percent from its inauguration day closing of 7,947.08. The Standand and Poor's 500 and the NASDAQ have done even better. The S&P closed Friday at 1,440.67, a 78.9 percent increase from inauguration day. The NASDAQ has more than doubled, its Friday closing of 3,116.23 a whopping 116.3 percent gain.

The stock market will fluctuate and data may be dull, but as Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump must move beyond the art of the deal in North Korea talks To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE pointed out, arithmetic tells us something. It would allow Obama to say clearly that the economy is moving in the right direction and cite the facts to back it up. 

Bass is author or co-author of nine books about the American South, including The Transformation of Southern Politics and professor of humanities and social sciences emeritus at the College of Charleston.)