coolidge-bookcover2.jpg

Amity Shlaes and Silent Cal, the Great Refrainer

Tomorrow morning, Amity Shlaes, author of Coolidge, will be joining me here at Stanford to record an episode of Uncommon Knowledge. Amity’s book represents a high achievement: an entirely successful attempt to combine portraiture with historical and economic analysis—and to demonstrate the relevance of the Coolidge agenda of some nine decades ago to the American predicament today. Completely engrossing—a serious lesson, but also a total delight.

To whet the appetite:

Coolidge served for sixty-seven months, finishing out Harding’s term after Harding died in early August 1923 [Coolidge had been elected vice president on the Harding ticket in 1920] and remaining until early March 1929.

Under Coolidge, the federal debt fell. Under Coolidge, the top income tax rate came down by half, to 25 percent. Under Coolidge, the federal budget was always in surplus. Under Coolidge, unemployment was 5 percent or even 3 percent….

amityshlaes.jpgWhen in 1929 the thirtieth president climbed onto a train a Union Station to head back home to Massachusetts after his sixty-seven months in office, the federal government was smaller than when he had become president in 1923 ….

Whereas other presidents made themselves omnipresent, Coolidge held back. At the time, and subsequently, many have deemed the Coolidge method laziness. Upon examination, however, the inaction reflects strength. In politics as in business, it is often harder, after all, not to do, to delegate, than to do. Coolidge is our great refrainer.

  1. Fricosis Guy

    One last question I’d like to see asked. Coolidge didn’t think much of Hoover. What could he have done to ensure a better successor? Like Marcus Aurelius, Coolidge’s legacy has been tainted by the fool he allowed to follow him.

  2. DrewInWisconsin

    Every time I see that image of the book cover, for a brief moment I think it’s Lileks in a top hat.

    Sorry. : (

  3. The Mugwump

    I was introduced to some of Coolidge’s speeches and personal letters by a conservative friend.  What struck me immediately was that Coolidge was first and foremost a moral philosopher.  He was a deep thinker and a man of tremendous personal integrity.  The contrast between Silent Cal and the current resident in the White House couldn’t more striking.         

  4. Butters

    I enjoy hearing and saying the name Amity Shlaes.

    Very whimsical.

  5. JimGoneWild

    Finally Peter is going to interview a hot babe!  Thank you, Peter.

  6. The King Prawn
    JimGoneWild: Finally Peter is going to interview a hot babe!  Thank you, Peter. · 10 minutes ago

    Look up his interviews with Claire Berlinski…

  7. David Williamson

    As opposed to noisy Obama, the Great Demagogue. 

  8. Stephen Hall

    I want this book in audio form so that I can download it from Audible. I want, I want, I want [stamps feet, holds breath, starts to turn blue].

  9. wmartin

    The GOP would do very well to follow Coolidge’s lead on immigration restriction.

  10. Wade Moore

    I read the book a couple of months ago and came away thinking that, while we could really use a Coolidge in the WH right now the American people just don’t have the patience it would take to let the guy work his magic…

  11. James Of England
    Stephen Hall: I want this book in audio form so that I can download it from Audible. I want, I want, I want [stamps feet, holds breath, starts to turn blue]. · May 21, 2013 at 6:25am

    It’s available and excellent. I’d have liked a little more on the elections, Massachusetts minimum wage, and particularly on trade (the books only serious omission), but it’s very readable, well balanced, and compelling.

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