My dog Hoover
Just in passing (and a few weeks late), I’d like to note Mona Charen’s column on Coolidge. Two unrelated thoughts occur:
1. I love the fact that Charen named her dog Coolidge. She and I apparently share a personality quirk: we name our pets for presidents. I call my dog Hoover (sorry, Amity — I know you’re not a fan, but I couldn’t resist the vacuum allusion for my hungry labrador). And my erstwhile cat (who ran away when we rudely moved from Washington to Charlottesville) was named Truman (sorry again). Next up? Eisenhower, I think.
2. Why are conservatives the only people writing about Coolidge? I know its naive, but I wish people would take history on its own terms, rather than always looking for a usable past. Sure, Coolidge has some obvious contemporary salience — I understand why many people would like to establish him as a mythic hero of sorts. But he’s also just plain old interesting, not least because he’s so under appreciated. It’s puzzling to me that liberals don’t pay more attention to him. Hell, they don’t even both to attack him. What’s with that?
Christopher Caillavet, writing for Investors Business Daily, makes an interesting case for Coolidge. In a 2009 C-SPAN survey of historians and professional White House watchers, Coolidge ranked just 26th out of 42 presidents. Caillavet is puzzled:
Why the reluctance for this plain-spoken son of New England, the man who kept watch over the peace and prosperity of the Roaring ’20s?
To some extent, Coolidge’s middling performance was a product of circumstance. As Caillavet notes:
Coolidge earns his poorest score in Crisis Leadership, an unsurprising result for a presidency relatively unscathed by emergency.
Using other measures of presidential performance, however, Coolidge measures up pretty well — or should have. Caillavet singles out two categories from the survey where Coolidge seems to have been robbed: “Pursued Justice For All” and “International Relations.”
Incidentally, Caillavet quotes Amity a few times. Here’s my favorite item:
“Coolidge doesn’t seem sporty,” she [Shlaes] told IBD, “but in my own mind he is like a windsurfer. That is to say what he does looks easy, like doing nothing. But actually it takes great strength.”
Anyway, take a look: Investors.com – President Coolidge’s Cool Grip On A Roaring Decades Tiller.