Tarheeltalker

So Long, Mr Coolidge

Thought I would share a bit more about  our  old friend Calvin Coolidge before bidding him adieu. Plus , it allows me to avoid  talking more about the Etheridge fiasco, which is playing out as I feared. Perhaps more in a day or so.

The Coolidge book was  different in its frequent use of lengthy quotes, both from and about him, than many bios. I would love quote a number of them but shall refrain. I thought that I would just  mention  just a few vignettes that struck me as interesting. What made them so was not necessarily their significance but more so the insight that they provided. Bear in mind that I am taking some chronological liberties as well.

The author calls Coolidge an enigma, perhaps borrowing from a New York World article  on September 13, 1919 that called him a sphinx or an enigma  referring to his habit of saying little. The article commented that it  was his silences that seemed to speak the loudest. Further on  was a comment about him seldom smiling or shaking hands, atypical for a politician even then.

Most of the pictures in the book show an individual that seemed to ” fear” the camera as much as it feared him. Now, couple that with a poor voice and style for public speaking and one wonders how he got anywhere. Food for him that television was in the future. He did, however do well on the radio with a type of fireside chat, without the  cool name. That would come along with some other guy.

Although  a proven vote getter in Massachusetts who  won virtually all his elections, he was not a popular choice  as Harding”s running mate. He was colorless, little known etc, but ended up as sort of  a compromise choice. And even when time came to run again in 1924, the Republican Party was not so enthused. He won of course by a  nearly 2-1 margin over  John Davis , the largest plurality ever for  a Republican.

There are several more stories that were worth  a mention, particularly the tragic death of his son, Calvin, Jr  at age 16. The young man developed a blister while playing tennis and soon he had blood poisoning. He died just five days later on July 7, 1924.  Many people felt that Coolidge was never the same , as one can readily understand.

I shall close with a bit of an amusing story that took place at the end of his term when he went quail hunting in Staunton, Virginia. Coolidge wo was not overly  amusing becomes just that in the author’s description. Sobel says that he posed for photographers with his normal dead-pan face. And a great quote on which to close. ” Coolidge,who was not  a sportsman, took many shots, but the quail had little to fear: he didn’t  hit one.”

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June 15, 2010 - Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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