Presidential History

The Tao of Coolidge


A refreshing flashback to the days before the cult of the presidency achieved dominance:

keeping cool

In a wonderful little essay on Calvin Coolidge (Calvin Coolidge: Puritanism de Luxe) written in 1926, Walter Lippmann described the president as having mastered the "technique of anti-propaganda" by sapping public interest in government, by deflating enthusiasm for programs, projects, and political dreams coming from Washington. The Democrats of his time worked hard to whip up passions for policies, programs, for politics generally–but it was "Mr. Coolidge's skill in destroying issues."…

"Mr. Coolidge's genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly. Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity, with such force of character, with such unremitting attention to detail, with such conscientious devotion to the task. Inactivity is a political philosophy and a party program with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for the soft and easy desire to let things slide. Mr. Coolidge's inactivity is not merely the absence of activity. It is on the contrary a steady application to the task of neutralizing and thwarting political activity wherever there are signs of life."

Lippmann's full essay, which contrasts Coolidge's quiet frugality with the consumer culture that swept the country at the same time, can be read here.


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  1. To dream, to dream

  2. Lippmann’s conflation of restraint-from-meddling with Puritanism is very, very strange.

    1. *shrug*

      The conflation of Puritans with abstemiousness in popular culture isn’t all that accurate either.

    2. It’s no more strange than Tony calling others fascists for preventing him from ruling other people’s lives.

  3. The Tao of Calvin Coolidege is already a novel.

  4. Kin I haz Cal 2-day?

  5. Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity, with such force of character, with such unremitting attention to detail, with such conscientious devotion to the task.

    When? When will we see such a man in high office again?

  6. Calvin Coolidge=Mitch Daniels

  7. It takes more strength of character to say “No” than “Yes” sometimes.

    1. Unless you are dealing with an oil-soaked beach, of course.

      1. Not quite sure what you mean, but no one here has ever said that dealing with national emergencies in federal waters isn’t the job of the executive, especially when the federal government has been the regulatory agency in charge to begin with. Where do you get that?

        I think the point is that there are lots of other non-emergency type things that aren’t within the purview of the federal government to which the executive branch should be saying “No” and refraining itself from getting involved.

        That said, can you tell me how to say, “Strawman” in French?

        1. Not quite sure what you mean

          That part is clear.

          What I meant was that the federal government has had an easier time saying “No” than “Yes” when it comes to dealing with the spill, not that the government should not be involved.

          1. Yeah, it took me awhile, but I got it.


  8. I will reiterate my idea that anyone who seeks out the presidency be automatically banned from the office.

    We should be electing leaders who want nothing to do with it.

    1. I just want to take a shit in the White House. Anywhere, I’m not picky. After that I will issue a bill of attainder against Episiarch and resign.

      1. You first have to refuse the office as Dr. Zoidberg refusing a second helping of dumpster diving. That should be part of the inauguration.

        And then, only if Warty is the VP and Groovus is appointed Surgeon General.

        1. I can’t fucking wait to gaffe the shit out of you faggots.

          1. It’d be hard to out-gaffe me. Especially after I declared Olivia Munn the Presidential Cum Toilet.

            1. Does accidentally strangling a hooker in the Oval Office count as a gaffe?

              1. “Other duties as assigned.”

                The VP shall *always* bury the president’s dead hookers.

              2. Yes, it does. Go strangle your hookers in your own office.

      2. Where, precisely, would you like to take a shit in the White House? I mean, if you’re talking right in the middle of the Resolute Desk, I’m not so sure. On Obama’s shoes? Go for it; I’ll hold your TP.

        1. I said I wasn’t picky. I’ll even use a toilet. Does the Lincoln bedroom have a Lincoln privy?

          1. Yes, but watch for splinters in the seat, and there are only corn cobs for freshening the area afterwards. They’re plumb out o’ Sears and Roebuck catalogs.

      3. Tours of the White House are still open to the public, no?

        Just shit your pants while taking the tour.

        1. You, sir, have a distinct lack of excretory imagination that sorely belies your moniker.

          1. It’s more subtle if you shit your own pants. Go eat a Snickers, asshole.

  9. You’re the top.
    You’re an Arrow Collar.
    You’re the top.
    You’re a Coolidge Dollar.

    Funny how modern renditions, such as Streisand, always remove that verse.

    1. God DAMMIT you beat me to it!

  10. No matter what it is or who commenced it

    I’m against it!

  11. Silent Cal was without a doubt the greatest 20th century POTUS, perhaps even the greatest of them all. He wouldn’t have been “libertarian” on moral issues, I’m sure, but even so we should hold him up as the model of what we should look for in a chief executive.

    Unfortunately, we will not soon see his like again.

  12. Especially after I declared Olivia Munn the Presidential Cum Toilet.

    Impeachment proceedings will commence immediately.

  13. Maybe, if we dig up Cal, we can get enough DNA to make a clone.

  14. He wouldn’t have been “libertarian” on moral issues, I’m sure,

    What makes you think he would have had any appetite for signing into law statutes making it illegal to do something he considered immoral?

    1. The personal IS the political!

      1. Does that mean I can call you a cunt?

  15. “Impeachment Re-election proceedings will commence immediately.”

    Sug is just carrying out his presidential duties as defined in the 28th Amendment:

    “The presidency shalled be filled by persons refusing to sit in the office and will, upon entering the office forcifully and against his will, replace the eagle in the presidential seal with 2 Girls, 1 Cup. The president shall also make The Shat, or his appointed successor, permanent ambassador to the United Nations, henceforth known as the United Federation of Nations.”

  16. my favorite example of not doing nothing working out best (russian general)….._of_Russia

    Either that, or the Wally character from Dilbert, who I strive to emulate, except I’m too lazy to be that diligent at being lazy.

  17. Calvin Coolidge, my 10th cousin, twice removed.

    Thus, he must have been cool.

  18. Interesting how Coolidge did emulate a type of governance praised by Lao Tzu.

    1. I am certain Coolidge never read the Tao Te Ching but have sometimes wondered if he maybe didn’t write it in another lifetime.
      Since July 4, 1985 I’ve performed a solo history – “Calvin Coolidge: More Than Two Words.” I recommend his 1929 Autobiography to your attention. Increasingly, it is seen as the best post-presidential writing after Grant’s Memoirs who had Mark Twain for editor.

  19. *dreams of Coolidge headbutting Obama*

  20. Pshaw to all you bandwagon-jumpers. I named my son after our 30th president (and Snoop Dogg). Beat that!

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