Cool Calvin

Yep, cool as in Coolidge. Not a phrase that readily comes to mind when one thinks of our 30th president although his rank in the periodic evaluations of our presidents has been on the upswing in recent years. A Vermonter by birth he began his political career in neighboring Massachusetts and really never returned home.

His rise in politics was  a methodical one, beginning at the local level with election to the Northampton city council in December, 1898. To illustrate how careers often begin in an  inauspicious manner , he won his seat with 207 votes. Doubtless, neither he nor anyone else  could envision that just 25 years in the future would see him in the White House.

I am still in the process of reading  Robert Sobel’s bio of Coolidge but  had som early observations to  make. I should add that oftentimes I read books in  an order different from which they are written, even bios such as this one. I often  pay particular attention to the end of the individual’s career  and such is the case with Coolidge.

I came across a really interesting quote in which he explained his reasons for not running again for the presidency in 1928. This placed him in stark contrast to Teddy Roosevelt and  John Tyler who initially acceded to the presidency via  the incumbent’s death, as did Coolidge. This quote really resonated with and i was struck with the thought that it should be required reading for every new president.

Coolidge  had  a different temperament from any president with whom I am familiar and that helps to explain his logic. Sobel calls him self-assured but modest  and very much  aware , even in the mid 1920’s of the self-deception that afflict  a resident of the Oval Office.

                           It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of sel;f-deception.They are always surrounded by worshipers.They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.They livce in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant. (Emphasis mine)

Isn’t that a paragraph that is quite apropos in our day and by no means just with  Obama. I daresay that every occupant of the office  must confront this issue and how it is handled largely determines success or failure. ( If you need a hint, just think of Nixon!)


June 11, 2010 - Posted by | History, Politics | , , , , , , , ,


  1. (They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant)

    It take a shorter time for some leaders in the White House to become careless and arrogant, even less than a year…get my drift? 🙂

    Comment by goodtimepolitics | June 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Yep! Some even start out careless & arrogant!!!

    Comment by tarheeltalker | June 12, 2010 | Reply

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