To close out the Wednesday GOP Presidential Debate, the Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson asked the candidates which former president they would draw inspiration from and for his choice, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis selected Calvin Coolidge. For some reason, PolitiFact decided to fact-check this.
DeSantis argued, “When Calvin Coolidge was president, "the country was in great shape," but PolitiFact claimed it is more complicated. On one hand, PolitiFact notes, “Coolidge’s reputation has risen in the past two decades, especially among conservatives, who value his record of balanced budgets, low taxes, light regulation and limited government. Biographer Amity Shlaes, who chairs the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, wrote that, under Coolidge, Americans began buying cars and electric appliances, and patents "increased dramatically.”
On the other, "Coolidge’s hands-off approach appeared to be reasonably popular with Americans. But the Roaring ’20s ended abruptly with the Great Depression five months after Coolidge left office. This sequence of events has been hard for historians to ignore: A periodic survey of historians currently places Coolidge 24th in the ranking of presidents, just below average."
That survey PolitiFact cites also ranks Franklin Roosevelt as the nation’s third greatest president which says more about the people doing the ranking than FDR.
PolitiFact continued to blame Coolidge for problems that were not unique to him, '"Much was happening both at home and abroad, and one must ask whether Coolidge’s policy of apparent inertia was really appropriate for a twentieth-century presidency,' wrote Peter Clements, author of 'Prosperity, Depression and the New Deal.' Coolidge 'spoke in his inaugural address of problems such as lynching, child labor and low wages for women. Yet he did nothing to overcome any of these issues.'
Coolidge tried to get a federal anti-lynching law but, naturally, PolitiFact omitted that. Finally, the staff writes "David Greenberg, another Coolidge biographer and a Rutgers University historian, has faulted Coolidge failing to help farmers in the run-up to the Depression and for a foreign policy approach that failed to forestall fascism’s rise in Europe."
Not only would PolitiFact not write a “fact-check” about a Democrat citing FDR as their answer to this question by reminding people of internment camps or threats to pack the Supreme Court if it did not rule in a certain way, they did not fact-check DeSantis’s fellow Republicans. Was Coolidge a perfect president? No, none of them have been, but the economy performed great during his tenure and he understood the limits of the power of the office which is more than can be said of the current president. Most importantly, however, is that which president Ron DeSantis considers to be a worthy role model for his own presidency is an opinion.