Mona Charen

Coolidge's example is a timely one. As David Pietrusza helpfully outlines in "Silent Cal's Almanack," he cut taxes four times and produced a budget surplus each year of his presidency. He also shifted the burden of taxes, which had fallen heavily on low earners during the Wilson administration, to the rich. Per capita income increased by 30 percent between 1922 and 1928. Unemployment averaged 3.3 percent. Coolidge respected his fellow citizens, and believed in the government's duty not to overburden them. "The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form."

"Duty," he said, "is not collective. It is personal."

He was known as "Silent Cal" for his Vermont taciturnity. A woman seated to his left at a dinner party once told him she'd made a bet that she could get him to say more than two words. "You lose," he deadpanned. He clearly longed for others to emulate his example. "Many times I say only 'yes' or 'no' to people," he lamented to Bernard Baruch. "Even that is too much. It winds them up for 20 minutes or more."

Coolidge spoke sparingly because he could fit much wisdom into few words. "It is characteristic of the unlearned," he observed, "that they are forever proposing something which is old, and because it has recently come to their attention, supposing it to be new."

Above all, Coolidge had his priorities in order. Regarding qualifications for the presidency, he said, "Any man that does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House."

Cali is not quite getting the spirit of her name. "Silent" is not word that came to mind as our family was kept awake last night by her howls of indignation at being confined to her crate. Between midnight and 5 a.m., we took turns escorting her to the back yard, in the rain, in January, and then gently but firmly returning her to the place she is supposed (ha!) to sleep.

But in the morning, her endearing face and wagging tail greet us joyously, and no one complains.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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