Since the world appears to be self-correcting -- Massachusetts voters have matters in hand, the Supreme Court has come to its senses on the First Amendment, each day brings new revelations that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was a fraud, and President Obama acknowledges that his agenda has hit a "buzz saw" -- it's safe to detour into the personal.
We have a new puppy -- an 8-week-old Golden Retriever who looks (I hope you won't think me immodest) like the pups they pose in catalogues to make you buy down jackets and lawn furniture. She's the kind of puppy pictured in saccharine wall calendars, toilet tissue commercials, and anywhere else that melting adorableness is required.
In keeping with our family tradition, we have named her after a U.S. president. Our first dog, who died last July, was called Gipper to honor Ronald Reagan. Teddy (Roosevelt) came next. We've named the pup Cali (my husband's idea), for Calvin Coolidge.
The most remembered fact about our 30th president is a misquotation. He did not say "The business of America is business." In a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1925, Coolidge said, "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." But this was prefatory to his main point, which was this: "Of course, the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence." In fact, Coolidge prized "practical idealism," a trait he believed U.S. newspapers represented very well. He closed with these words:
"We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are many other things that we want very much more. We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization. The chief ideal of the American people is idealism. I cannot repeat too often that America is a nation of idealists. That is the only motive to which they ever give any strong and lasting reaction."