“Man of Few Words, Coolidge Had Much to Say” by David M. Shribman

President Coolidge at Camp Devens with friend and political lieutenant, William M. Butler, also of Massachusetts.

President Coolidge at Camp Devens with friend and political lieutenant, William M. Butler, also of Massachusetts.

From way back in 2004, comes this enjoyable piece by the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, David M. Shribman. Herein Mr. Shribman explains why Coolidge, so underrated for so long, deserves reappraisal. It is indicative of powerful thoughts that a piece now eleven years old, relying upon words that were written and spoken as far as ninety-six years ago, find just as suitable a place in 2015 as when they were first expressed. Such is the timeless potency of truth.

Enjoy, Coolidge friends.

Shribman, David - Photo

On Watching Washington

Mr. Coolidge was selected to chair the National Transportation Committee after his service in the White House but he warns fellow member Mr. Baruch against where committee proposals could very easily go, if allowed to do so. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Mr. Coolidge was selected to chair the National Transportation Committee after his service in the White House but he warns fellow member, Mr. Baruch, against the indulgence of expenditures that committee proposals could very easily allow, undermining the duty they owed the public. Unfortunately, Mr. Coolidge did not live to temper the results of this Committee’s work. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Former President Coolidge, having left Washington for a permanent home in his Northampton, once warned friend Bernard Baruch of the national Capital’s proclivity for extravagance at every opportunity. He knew Washington does not work automatically, left to responsibly police its own actions. They must be constantly watched and vigilantly checked. The people of the country knew it then and know it now. Americans wanted government to stop trying to “fix” problems that previously did not exist, creating issues that merely strengthen an ongoing growth of Washington rather than its limited sphere under enumerated responsibilities. Coolidge understood how embedded a mindset it was, not cured simply by who held the powers of office at the time, however courageous, principled or moral one was. A love of power had taken root deeply in the hearts of those who worked there. Liberties are always at risk in proportion to Washington’s growth in importance and reach of authority.

Coolidge wisely observed, “It is necessary to watch people in Washington all the time to keep them from unnecessary expenditure of money. They have lived off the national Government so long in that city that they are inclined to regard any sort of employment as a Christmas tree, and if we are not careful, they will run up a big expense bill on us. I hope you are checking them up to see what results they are getting, either by personal contact or letter.”

Mr. Coolidge appreciated the potency of personal accountability. Such is a novel concept in our world of email and digital anonymity. Yet, would government be as convinced it can “work out” ways to rescue disastrous policies — in spite of our express disapproval — and without lasting consequences, if it no longer had the impersonal cover afforded by nearly continuous sessions of Congress, the 24/7 news cycle and all the other amenities of distant Washington?

On the Mind of the President, Part 2

President Coolidge: “Mr. Strother, who had something to do about arranging and compiling in conjunction with Mr. Slemp that book that Mr. Slemp issued, was in this morning and brought me in a presentation copy of it. Glancing at it I see that it is very well indexed and there is topically arranged in the book things that I have said in relation to a great many subjects. I think your offices ought to provide each one of you with a copy of that book.”

Press: “Would you autograph each copy?”

President Coolidge: “Yes, I would be glad to, and whenever you want to know what my position is on any subject, if you will just glance at that index it will very quickly refer you to a place in the book where you can learn what I have said in relation to a very great many different subjects” — Press Conference on March 12, 1926.

Another conference on May 31, 1927, revealed this witty exchange,

President Coolidge: “Here are two or three questions that perhaps could be answered more desirably by reference to Mr. Slemp’s book–what is the title of that?”

Press: “The Mind of the President.”

Coolidge: “The Class is perfect.”

What elected official today would gladly refer you to something they already said that had been set in printed form going back as many as four years?

“An extremely interesting study is the relation of President Coolidge to the Presidency itself. He has reversed a recent tradition of the Presidential office. For a quarter of a century our Presidents have professed democracy and have practised benevolent autocracy. They believed that they could advance the welfare of the nation better than the people could advance it. They announced what they declared to be progressive policies and tried to convert the people to these policies. They tried to improve government from the top.

“Calvin Coolidge believes that progress comes direct from the people. He believes that the people, out of their local problems, out of their individual consciousness of national problems, sense the great issues of the day and reach the right conclusion regarding them. As President Coolidge sees it, the task of a great national leader is not to try to go ahead of this majestic army of human thought and aspiration, blazing new and strange paths. His function is rather to become the sensitized personal embodiment of their thoughts and aspirations, and the instrument through which they reach public expression. In this respect his chief forerunners in the Presidential office are none other than Andrew Jackson, the founder of the Democratic Party, and Abraham Lincoln, founder of the Republican Party and its first President, both exponents of the theory that the people are the seat of political wisdom as well as political power. President Coolidge’s view of these matters is an absolute reversal of the theory of the President’s function as practised in recent years. It is a restoration of the old conception of democracy. I must leave to philosophical students of history the question as to whether it is the better conception…

“It is worthy of note here that President Coolidge has appointed more committees of private citizens to investigate and report upon current problems for his guidance than any other President. He thus utilizes the resources of political wisdom embodied in the citizenry.

“In following this habit of direct reliance upon the mass of the people the radio has fitted into the situation perfectly. It seemed to have been invented for him. It came just as he did. His voice is perfectly adapted to its use in an enunciation clear and distinct. The invisible audience without the dramatic appearance of the speaker must listen, if at all, to the thought of the speaker. In this role the President shines. It has thus placed him in direct communication with the people. It is estimated that thirty million listeners heard his speech the night before the last national election and as many more during the campaign. Repeatedly he has utilized this instrumentality to give the people his views simultaneously in all parts of the country. It may, in part, account for the unanimity of sentiment now prevailing on public issues” — C. Bascom Slemp, An Analysis and an Interpretation to The Mind of the President, 1926, pp.4-6, 8-11.

The President, First Lady and Mr. Slemp outside the White House, February 1924.

The President, First Lady and Mr. Slemp outside the White House, February 1924.

On the Mind of the President, Part 1

“It would not be just to conclude that President Coolidge is obstinate or opinionated because of this exhibition of consistency as to principles and policies of government. These are fundamentals. He has no egotistical belief that he can immediately solve a perplexing national problem, without study and without reflection. The public is protected from hasty action later to be regretted, yet when the Senate demanded the resignation of a member of his Cabinet and an immediate answer was necessary, it came like a flash of lightning. He knows, however, that by intense mental application there is every probability that he can always secure the right solution to any problem. He begins an important inquiry with all the zest of his spirit. He takes counsel. He seeks advice. His methods are those of a trained research worker. He sends for wise and informed men, and for books and document–but especially for men. He loves to listen.

“Patiently and thoroughly he continues this process until he gets the principal facts and the various points of view pertaining to his subject. The President then weighs the evidence in his own mind and reaches his conclusion. He acts from logic rather than from inspiration. He concentrates more intensely and more continuously than any man I have ever known. Morning, noon, and night he keeps thinking, thinking. He indulges in no distracting pleasures. He has no recreation, even, beyond daily walks and occasional week-end trips on the Mayflower. All his working hours, except those involved in the inescapable routine of his office, are devoted to intense, concentrated mental labour upon his duties and problems. It is not surprising that in the expression of his thoughts he has won the admiration of mankind, for he is a student of history, trained in the science of logical analysis, and disciplined to work steadfastly and hard. Most important of all, his mind is fortified by his character. He is honest–morally honest and intellectually honest. He wants to reach the right conclusion, not only because it is an intellectual pleasure to have the right answer, but because he simply cannot tolerate anything wrong in himself. His decisions are guided by conscience as well as by knowledge, reason, and proper political consideration.

“The Presidency is a test of character as well as a test of wisdom. In reading this book the reader will miss half of its significance if he does not weigh the President’s words for what they tell of his character as well as for what they tell of his mind…

“In dealing with public or political questions President Coolidge has political intuition almost psychic. One cannot see, tough, or hear a political tide, but it can be felt. The man in public life who fails to create a tide or sense an adverse tide will soon be politically lost. Coolidge, with the single exception of [Theodore] Roosevelt, has possessed this intuition in the most marked degree of all our recent Presidents–Taft, perhaps, the least. Wilson developed it; Harrison was cold intellect; Cleveland, rugged force. Neither had this psychic sense. All were great Presidents. No one in his lifetime, of course, should be compared with Lincoln, preserved for all the ages in the shroud of immortality, but I think of President Coolidge as like Lincoln in this respect” — C. Bascom Slemp, “An Analysis and an Interpretation” to The Mind of the President, 1926.

The President and his secretary, C. Bascom Slemp.

The President and one of the men who worked more closely with him than most ever did, C. Bascom Slemp.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2015!

James Lucey in his shop, January 7, 1933.

James Lucey in his Northampton shoe shop as he looks up to a portrait of his dear, late friend, January 7, 1933.

Three days after edging out Democrat opponent Harry E. Bicknell for mayor of Northampton, Coolidge recounted the outcome to his father in a letter, writing, “I did not have to reply to the [Northampton Daily] Herald attack for every body knew it was not true. Folks know I do not go in saloons and I never bought a drink during the campaign…The nearer I got to my house or office the better I ran and it was the opposite way with the other fellow. At least 400 democrats voted for me. Their leaders cant see why they did it. I know why. They knew I had done things for them, bless their honest Irish hearts.”

It had been an especially rotten campaign against Coolidge, painting him as buying votes with alcohol, indulging people’s vices in exchange for public office and influence. Most knew the truth. It was typical for the losing side to insult the voter base but the Daily Hampshire Gazette had stood by Cal, explaining how he campaigned, “[H]e does not say anything about the other candidate. At the Democratic rallies they keep telling what a poor man Coolidge is, how little he ever did that was good and how much he has done that was bad…” Instead, Mr. Coolidge ran on his own merits, his own record and let the other side exhaust itself in overplayed rhetoric. The Gazette explained later: “[H]e made his appeal for election solely to the enfranchised American citizens who put citizenship above party, and it is to them alone he attributes the result…” It was the character of the man they knew firsthand, not party affiliation, that held greater weight before voters.

Coolidge appealed to voters not through political patronage and austere planning but out of a genuine love for people. He felt most at home among the local tradesmen, shop-keepers and laborers, the men who reminded him of his neighbors up in Vermont around old Plymouth Notch. He had represented some of them and knew virtually all of them in Northampton. The wise counsel of cobbler James Lucey melted Cal’s initial reserve and they would remain fast friends to the end. He was among the few actually included in family dinners at the Homestead and even at the White House. Once, when delayed by late Mass, Lucey arrived apologetic. The Coolidges had simply waited on their dear friend to arrive. No apologies were warranted and Cal welcomed him to begin their meal together.

The list could go on, men like Richard Rahar whose restaurant Cal, and in years to come Grace and their boys, would patronize often. It was through Coolidge’s representation of the Springfield Breweries, which Mr. Rahar served as vice president, that the false accusations flowed so freely against him regarding alcohol used during the campaign. Yet, even with James M. Curley presiding over the company, Coolidge would not have obtained this special trust without an already proven faithfulness in his work. Even Curley would have to pay a back-handed compliment to Cal in later years, when once introducing him as “our President that has been and, if he so desires, may again be” (Beatty, The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley 285). David Scates, the conscientious treasurer of that same chain of breweries, was another Irishman won to Coolidge’s worth.

Jim Maloney was another, whose bakery became fixed in the memories of many a youngster growing up in Northampton, as native Richard C. Garvey has noted (“Coolidge and the Northampton Irish: A Strange Alliance,” New England Journal of History 55.1, Fall 1998, pp.71-2). Each would likewise persuade their families and neighbors of Coolidge’s integrity and reliability. The list could go from there to his future tenure in the Massachusetts Senate, as fellow senator and Democrat leader of Roxbury, Jim Timilty, would declare, “Calvin Coolidge can have anything he wants from me…Cal’s my kind of guy.” (Sobel, Coolidge: An American Enigma 137).

John Kennedy, the only man to defeat Coolidge — in the 1905 school board race, was one of many with whom Cal shared respect as a competent and qualified public officer. He even so publicly, complimenting Mr. Kennedy and supporting him upon reelection. This was not some politician’s concession, Coolidge through his range of acquaintances confirmed Mr. Kennedy’s able service on the Board from a fellow Board member. Making a point of writing his opponents with gracious thoughts for their well-being, in victory or defeat, Coolidge likewise secured friends when bitterness could have burned bridges and needlessly made enemies. These were men not easily convinced by mere schmoozing yet something they saw in Coolidge resonated more profoundly than party fellowship. To these men, moral character was the kindred bond that transcended political identity.

The list could continue with Father Joseph G. Daley of St. Mary’s Church in Haydenville, who would later introduce Vice President Coolidge at the sesquicentennial of Williamsburg, Massachusetts. On the occasion of Father Daley’s silver jubilee as priest, guess whose efforts behind the scenes are recognized with one simple line in a quarter-page ad of the printed program that day, “Compliments and good wishes of Calvin Coolidge.”

It was Democrat Michael FitzGerald who followed Cal in his old Ward 2 council seat, and, once Coolidge was elected to the state Senate, they commuted regularly between Northampton and Boston. In fact, FitzGerald lavished high praise on Coolidge when notification of his nomination to the Republican ticket as Vice President was presented and Cal would support this good and decent man over the Republican candidate, a prickly attorney named William Feiker. When FitzGerald won the mayoral contest and Feiker lost in his attempt to comeback politically, Feiker (true to form) called a press conference and demanded Coolidge (then Vice-President-elect) be called out and censured as a “traitor to the Republican Party.” Of course, nothing came of it and Cal never dignified the man’s public tantrum with a single comment. However, at the family dinner on the eve of his Vice-Presidential inauguration, among his honored guests and close friends at their room in the Willard Hotel was none other than new Mayor Michael FitzGerald, alongside Mr. and Mrs. Stearns.

As Cal put it, “Bless their honest Irish hearts.” Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!

Former President Coolidge at the Boston Tercentenary celebration, July 1930.

Former President Coolidge at the Boston Tercentenary celebration, July 1930.

Calvin Coolidge: Laissez-faire? Think Again…

President Coolidge raises the flag over the Common at Lynn, Massachusetts, August 27, 1925.

President Coolidge raises the flag over the Common at Lynn, Massachusetts, August 27, 1925.

“Government is not, must not be, a cold, impersonal machine, but a human and more human agency: appealing to the reason, satisfying the heart, full of mercy, assisting the good, resisting the wrong, delivering the weak from any impositions of the powerful. This is not paternalism. It is not a servitude imposed from without, but the freedom of a right to self-direction from within. Industry must be humanized, not destroyed. It must be the instrument not of selfishness, but of service. Change not the law, but the attitude of the mind. Let our citizens look not to the false prophet but to the pilgrims. Let them fix their eyes on Plymouth Rock as well as Beacon Hill. The supreme choice must be not to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen. 

“Our government belongs to the people. Our property belongs to the people. It is distributed. They own it. The taxes are paid by the people. They bear the burden. The benefits of government must accrue to the people. Not to one class, but to all classes, to all the people. The functions, the power, the sovereignty of the government, must be kept where they have been placed by the Constitution and laws of the people. Not private will, but that public will, which speaks with a divine sanction, must prevail.

“There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be overcome by the good others represent. Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas which are right. This can be done. The meaning of America is a power which cannot be overcome. Massachusetts must lead in teaching it.

“Prosecution of the criminal and education of the ignorant are the remedies. It is fundamental that freedom is not to be secured by disobedience to law. Even the freedom of the slave depended on the supremacy of the Constitution. There is no mystery about this. They who sin are the servants of sin. They who break the laws are the slaves of their own kind. It is not for the advantage of others that the citizen is abjured to obey the laws, but for his own advantage. That what he claims a right to do to others, that must he admit others have a right to do to him. His obedience is his own protection. He is not submitting himself to the dictates of others, but responding to the requirements of his own nature.

“Laws are not manufactured. They are not imposed. They are rules of action existing from everlasting to everlasting. He who resists them, resists himself. He commits suicide. The nature of man requires sovereignty. Government must govern. To obey is life. To disobey is death. Organized government is the expression of the life of the commonwealth. Into your hands is entrusted the grave responsibility of its protection and perpetuation” – 1920 recording by Governor Coolidge

“When the inauguration was over I realized that the same thing for which I had worked in Massachusetts had been accomplished in the nation. The radicalism which had tinged our whole political and economic life from soon after 1900 to the World War period was passed. There were still echoes of it, and some of its votaries remained, but its power was gone. The country had little interest om mere destructive criticism. It wanted the progress that alone comes from constructive policies” — Coolidge referring to the March 4, 1921 inauguration, The Autobiography, p.157.

“A government must govern, must prescribe and enforce laws within its sphere or cease to be a government. Moreover, the individual must be independent and free within his own sphere or cease to be an individual. The fundamental question … is now, and always will be through what adjustments, by what actions, these principles may be applied” — May 30, 1924


Echoed repeatedly since the onset of what became the Great Depression, the administrations of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover have endured decades of mischaracterization under the laissez-faire label, as John F. Fox, Jr. has noted in his essay, “Progressivism in an Age of Normalcy” featured in the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover published last October. Coolidge’s oft-misquoted, “the business of America is business” or his “minding his own business” as his finest achievement are usually cited to prove his laissez-faire credentials. Despite more recent research that has begun to challenge the premise that Hoover “did nothing” which contributed to the Depression, study of Coolidge still seems to languish between dubious apprehension and ample ignorance. None of these three Presidents fit so neatly into that box, despite the devout attempts by some, with a religious zeal to defend what came after the 1920s, to stuff each one away there and lock them within permanently. It is as if merely evoking the term laissez-faire explains every reason why the economy collapsed seven months after unrelenting policy-upheaval while, it is claimed, the entire disaster could have been mitigated, if not altogether avoided through expansive government activity – like, you guessed it, the heroic Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” With more intervention, America could have escaped the “Great” in depression by averting all that caused it: the oblivious policies and reactionary neglect of “hands-off” politicians too clueless to intervene even when it meant preventing disaster. So goes the conventional narrative anyway. This is ahistorical revisionism engaged in by those with an ax to grind, a political outcome to achieve, rather than a genuine study of the record.

We have noted before, as have many others from the late Thomas Silver and Robert Sobel to Alvin S. Felzenberg and Michael Dukakis, that Coolidge was hardly laissez-faire. He was no modern liberal but neither is he the “non-interventionist” libertarian of popular imagery. Robert A. Woods, author of the excellent biography, The Preparation of Calvin Coolidge, addresses this very claim with a discussion issue by issue: Coolidge championed what then was known as a conventionally progressive platform both as state legislator and Governor. It is noteworthy that he took up an active agenda inherited from President Harding and built upon it. Cal’s First Annual Message, which we will be examining in greater detail soon, reveals a very ambitious agenda containing over thirty-three proposals for action on a broad range of issues. His frequent use of the appointment power remade policy at the Federal Reserve, the Shipping Board, the Courts, and everywhere its influence could be felt in accordance with Article II and the laws of the nation. These are not the actions of a “hands-off” bystander, letting events make decisions. He would go on to advance that agenda even after the death of his youngest son, so that he could say most of what had been proposed had become law by the time he left office, in 1929. This indicates a very different approach to the office than Coolidge is reputed to have.

He parted with the Progressive Movement on one key particular, however: Coolidge kept the enduring relevance of the Declaration and Constitution, as David Pietrusza and Charles C. Johnson have both explored. Coolidge respected that both charters made progress possible. While the vast majority were jettisoning all ties with the founding documents, Coolidge kept moored to these “fixed stars,” as he called them, in our political firmament. They furnished solutions to their own limitations, via the amendment process and concept of law discovered, not made, by mankind. It was not for us to invent a new authority, to cast off what we perceived to be antiquated ideas, the soundness of the future rested on the progressive nature of the founding framework itself, starting with the importance of the Declaration and the continuation of duties, not merely an insistence on rights, as defined in the Constitution.

The Coolidges greeting visitors to the summer White House at White Court, where Executive business kept going throughout the summer,1926.

The Coolidges greeting visitors to the summer White House at White Court in the Adirondacks, New York, where executive business kept going throughout the summer,1926.

Coolidge explains these differences as three stages of human development. He quotes his great teacher, Charles Garman, to define each stage. First, there is the “let-alone policy,” what we might refer today as laissez-faire, libertarian or objectivist, where each person looks “out for number one. This is the age of selfishness.” Had this been the driving mindset of Christ, “He would have remained in heaven and let earth take care of itself.” Coolidge rejects this view. Second, there is the “opposite pole of thinking” that each person do “somebody else’s work for him. This is the dry rot of sentimentality that feeds tramps” and passes laws that incur the wrath of Social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer, who may be lauded by classical liberals today but whose “survival of the fittest” views ran counter to what Coolidge held. Had this second view held sway, Christ would have come to earth “with His hands full of gold and silver treasures satisfying every want that unfortunate humanity could have devised.” He fed the multitudes but He was teaching a principle greater than welfare in His name. Third, there is the stage to which Coolidge appealed, “every man must render and receive the best possible service, except in the case of inequality, and there the strong must help the weak to help themselves.”

It is not “Big Government conservatism,” whatever that may be, but the necessary precondition to service, the “true interpretation of the life of Christ.” Coolidge, presenting his own views, introduces us not to the “let be” approach wrongly assigned to his legacy, but to the example of service. As Coolidge continues explaining the third stage, Christ came to earth in “the form of a servant who is at the same time a master commanding His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him; it is sovereignty through service as opposed to slavery through service. He refuses to make the world wealthy, but He offers to help them make themselves wealthy with the true riches which shall be a hundredfold more, even in this life than that which was offered them by any former system.” It was this principle that Coolidge articulated all of his life, not the laissez-faire or statist ideals alternately attributed to him. Coolidge understood that it was what held together the unbroken line between the Framers and modernity, even after the challenges of industrialization. Technology did not change human nature. That was the fatal flaw in Progressivism, recommending government surgically take up the individual’s burdens without also stripping the individual of his or her liberties. Meanwhile, those liberties were not, as the laissez-faire advocates asserted, absolute or purist but channeled and defined by the eternal law of service, exemplified by Christ and sustained in the form of government adopted here in 1789. Had the Founders envisioned a laissez-faire or statist system, they certainly could have designed it so. They chose another way, however. The principles that brought together an energetic executive, a deliberative legislature, and an interpretive judiciary, to work side by side with state and local authorities, all ultimately accountable not to the law of letting each fend for themselves nor the law of centralizing control but to the law of giving and receiving the best possible service, serving one another. Anything less kept the weak weak or tore down the strong to render all weaker still.

Former President Coolidge walking in the parade commemorating Boston's Three Hundredth Anniversary, 1930.

Former President Coolidge (second pair in line, left) walking in the parade commemorating Boston’s Three Hundredth Anniversary, 1930.

This is how equal suffrage, minimum wage laws, the child labor amendment, and the outlawry of war treaty reconcile with what we know Coolidge believed when it came to limited government, budgetary discipline, tax reduction, farm relief, veteran’s bonuses, and intervention abroad. It was how Coolidge could brandish the veto power while also insisting on deference to constitutional authority in Congress to set immigration policy. It was how Coolidge could insist on the prerogatives of a strong Executive without betraying the powers rightly reserved to the states or the sovereign people. These were not the contortions of an uncertain or two-faced politician, they were principles kept grounded by the Founding, as even Jefferson learned as President. While so many of Coolidge’s generation had left those moorings to float adrift vainly in search of a “new order” that would move beyond the constraints of the past toward higher progress, the mind of the thirtieth president saw the issues with which the Framers dealt in human government as no different essentially from those of twentieth-century America, or our own twenty-first century, for that matter. We are no wiser for cutting ourselves off from that generation’s wealth of statesmanship. There could be no progress without the Founding. As such, Coolidge identified what the Progressive Movement had discarded to its doom. While the government America had adopted was neither unnecessary nor impotent toward the progress of the future, it was the natural fruit of and could only be built upon its declaratory principles. Those principles were common threads and shared guideposts between her form of governance and America’s continued growth and success. Though this may seem novel to some but obvious to others, it was how Calvin Coolidge viewed the world, not through the lens of socially atomistic laissez-faire theories but through the duty to serve, even when it comes to government administration, as Christ served: giving and receiving the best possible service.

As L. John Van Til in Why Coolidge Matters, published in 2010, has said, “Indeed, the nation would be much better served if more of its Presidents had a world view as consistent as Coolidge’s.” Yes, it would.