A ‘Silent Cal’ sounds pretty good these days 

We're mired in a look-at-me world where success lies not in ideas or performance but in sound bites. It’s hard to imagine anyone more countercultural, less in sync with today’s zeitgeist, than Silent Cal.



August 16, 2023 - 3:16 PM

President Calvin Coolidge in front of the White House in Feb. 26, 1925. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

It’s common for American presidents to grow in our estimation over time. Decisions once deemed unwise can look wiser or prescient with the perspective of decades. Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant are among those presidents whose reputations have risen over the years.

One president is among the most deserving but least likely to enjoy a positive reputational upgrade, and that’s unfortunate. As we reached this month’s centennial of Calvin Coolidge’s accession to the presidency, upon the death of Warren G. Harding, a nation drowning in debt and in serious need of a cultural course correction could do much worse than to examine the life of the quiet man from Massachusetts.

We live in a time when the leadership of both parties, in the face of brutal arithmetic of which they cannot pretend to be less than fully aware, continues to drive the federal government and its safety net programs off a cliff of debt, at the bottom of which awaits not only an economic but also a social crisis.

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