Coolidge Versus Frost

Greetings, I am the author of Coolidge, out this week from HarperCollins. Thank you for having me at Ricochet.

You thought I was going to write about tax rates. Coolidge’s tax cuts are legitimately famous. He cut the top rate to 25%, below Reagan’s 28% rate. But getting CC’s tax thoughts into policy will be easy compared to getting him into the great task preoccupying me: getting CC (back) into the culture.

Coolidge favored the poet John Greenleaf Whittier (“Snow-Bound”). The late great Peter Stanlis, however, tipped me off to some similarities between CC and the poet Robert Frost. “Miles to go before I sleep” (Frost) resembled Coolidge’s philosophy, which was always to honor a contract. Frost’s consideration of social obligation mirrors Coolidge’s own considerations (CC liked a little welfare, but at the state level): “Home is the place where, When you have to go there, They have to take you in.”

So here’s my first question to Ricochet readers. Can a conservative ever be considered culturally? Or, can the conservative aspect in a cultural figure, the currently Kennedy-owned Frost, for example, ever be recognized? This contest isn’t truly Coolidge versus Frost; it is Coolidge and Frost, both finding a more appropriate place in our culture.

One last factoid: CC’s and Frost’s lives crossed in weird ways, especially at Amherst, CC’s alma mater. Dear alumni of Amherst: is it possible to make CC’s presence at your school greater? It seems ironic that the wonderful structure holding the Coolidge papers there is not the Coolidge Library but the Frost Library.