Political bias in the Washington Post can crop up in the most unexpected places. Take today's list of "Washington Bestsellers" on the last page of the paper's Sunday Book World mini-section. This week, Amity Shlaes's Coolidge -- a new biography which explores the conservative 30th president's tax cuts and reduction in the size of the federal government -- ranked number 3 on the top 10 list of nonfiction/general hardcover titles, one notch below My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor's new autobiography.
The staffer charged with writing up the list snarked that the Coolidge tome was "100,000 words about a president who never said anything," while noting of Sotomayor's memoir, "The justice recounts her path from a Bronx housing project to the Supreme Court."
While Coolidge grew up in obscurity in a Vermont farming community and rose through the ranks of Republican politics in Massachusetts, his is an equally fascinating story for political and history junkies, so why the dismissive abstract, especially given that Shlaes's book is flying off the bookstore shelves?
To be fair, Coolidge was nicknamed "Silent Cal," so there is that, but Shlaes's bio is about uncovering the man and the statesman behind and perhaps obscured by his laconic and stoic Yankee exterior.
If the book remains on the top 10 next week, might I suggest this: "New look at 30th president's journey from Vermont farm to White House."
I am indebted to Amity Shlaes for gently correcting a joke of mine that dates back to July 8, 1972. On that date in the New York Times, I joshed that President Calvin Coolidge "probably spent more time napping than any president in the nation's history" and therefore was a successful president. My joke was a play on an earlier joke by H. L. Mencken, and now Shlaes has corrected both of us. She has written a very impressive biography titled simply "Coolidge," wherein she never mentions Cal's naps but rather what made him the most successful president of the 1920s. He reversed the economic insolvency of President Woodrow Wilson, and set the economy on the road to growth, a road made rocky by Cal's successor, President Herbert Hoover, and rockier still by Hoover's successor, Franklin Roosevelt.
Though one would not know it today, Coolidge was the most successful president of the 1920s. Vice President Coolidge came to the presidency on the death of President Warren G. Harding in August 1923 and won the presidency outright in 1924 with 54 percent of the vote over the Democrat, John W. Davis, who had 28.8 percent of the vote, and the Progressive, Robert M. La Follette, who won just 16.6 percent of the vote. Moreover, Coolidge had won every race he ever contested from his first run for city councilman in 1898 to the governorship of Massachusetts in 1918, usually by astoundingly large margins. His combination of civility, effectiveness, standing by the law and, as president, tax cuts, budget balancing, and growth, was wildly popular with American voters, as was his singular asset, taciturnity.
PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Vt. -- If your disgust over America's crushing debt and the irresponsible leaders who refuse to reduce unnecessary spending has reached the fed-up point, there is an easy solution beyond whatever compromise might be reached in the current standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans. Vote Republican in 2012.
But don't vote for just any Republican, rather vote for conservatives who believe the foundational principles of America still work and can rescue us from default, placing the country back on a track that leads to prosperity and greater liberty.
"Nothing succeeds like success" -- Alexandre Dumas, 1802-1870
If new millionaires or billionaires were created every time President Obama and his fellow liberals disparage "millionaires and billionaires," there would be far more of them than there are today. And that would be a good thing because it would mean more people are succeeding.
When three-fourths of the Boston police department went on strike in 1919, leading to broken shop windows and looting, then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the state militia and broke the strike. Coolidge declared, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time."
His courage propelled him to the vice presidency and eventually to the presidency.