Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Silent Cal" Pipes Up With The 4-Ever Republican Platform

The first presidential film with sound recording, 1924. John McCain may as well give the same speech.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, presided over the soaring stock market and great boom years of the Roaring Twenties (1923–1929), and in so doing became quite popular, despite being so notoriously taciturn. When this former Massachusetts governor died in 1933, Dorothy Parker reportedly quipped, "How could they tell?"

"His ideal day is one on which nothing whatever happens.... Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored."
-- H.L. Mencken

"Coolidge's terseness became legendary. He could be 'silent in five languages,' a contemporary asserted. A favorite joke had a pretty young woman approaching the president to explain that she had bet a friend she could make him say more than two words. 'You lose,' Coolidge replied. Alice Roosevelt Longworth said he looked as though he'd been 'weaned on a pickle.'"
-- H.W. Brands

"Coolidge's philosophy is Puritanism de luxe, in which it is possible to praise all the classic virtues while continuing to enjoy all the modern conveniences."
-- Walter Lippman

"The business of America is business."
-- Coolidge

"If you keep dead still, they will run down in three or four minutes. If you even cough or smile they will start up all over again."
-- Coolidge to his successor, Herbert Hoover, on how to deal with visitors to the White House

Taxes, taxes, taxes... Yeah, sure. We all just love paying taxes, don't we? Forget your culture wars, people. Cal was telling you what the Republican Party was about, is about, and will always be about. They still stick to the same old songsheets, even though that stock market bubble collapsed shortly after Cal left office, and the country was plunged into the Great Depression. You'd think that would have been enough to discredit those laissez faire ideas forever, but apparently not. Brush that speech off, and Romney could have slickly packaged it a few months ago, or McCain could stumble through it just as clumsily today.

Yes, they've stuck to their principles. Give them credit for that... I wish the Democratic Party had stuck to theirs.

Someone clever has read between the lines of that speech, btw, and distilled the rest of the GOP platform issues, again, prescient in their relevance for today, like so...

What is that he's reading from? William's chapbook?

For all that Cal said in what he did not say, or for what little he actually said with great reluctance, his greatest bit of folk wisdom might have been what's come to be known as the Coolidge Effect.

The story goes that President and Mrs Coolidge were visiting a government farm in Kentucky one day and after arrival were taken off on separate tours. When Mrs Coolidge passed the chicken pens she paused to ask her guide how often the rooster could be expected to perform his duty. 'Dozens of times a day' was her guide's reply. She was most impressed by this and said, 'Please tell that to the President.'

When the President was duly informed of the rooster's performance he was initially dumbfounded. Then a thought occurred to him. 'Was this with the same hen each time?' he inquired. 'Oh no, Mr President, a different one each time' was his host's reply. The President nodded slowly, smiled and said, ''Tell that to Mrs Coolidge!'


cowboyangel said...

Oof, hard to get through that video. Combine a static film shot with a boring speaker and I was ready to snooze after the first minute. I liked the second video better.

That's a great Parker quote.

or McCain could stumble through it just as clumsily today.

So I'm not the only one who finds McCain clumsy as a speaker? There's something odd about his style, or lack of style. It reinforces my fear that he is really is nuts. Not that it will matter to the public. Bush II can spout out incredible gibberish in an awkward, deer-in-the-headlights, mentally-challenged style and win two elections.

I wish the Democratic Party had stuck to theirs.

Remind me again what those principles were.

Liam said...

I used to think McCain age jokes were a low blow, but since he started saying things like, "Hamas endorsed Obama," I've decided it's open season on the crazy old codger.

So: have you ever seen a picture of Silent Cal standing next to John McCain? Can he prove they're not the same person?

Jeff said...

I can't, but what was truly frightening to me was the day he was claiming that al qaeda in Iraq were being trained in Iran while Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham were desperately trying to tell him to correct himself or to clam up.

What's even scarier is that it doesn't really matter. I'm sure that a lot of people believed him.

cowboyangel said...

Hey, wait a minute, I missed that reference to my chapbook! My chapbook's much more interesting than that! :-)

But thanks for the plug.

Jeff said...

Well, that's certainly true. Old Cal couldn't do Dada like you can.

crystal said...

Hey, I have that chapbook written by Cal :)

Was it Bette Davis who said growing old is not for sissies? I feel sad for McCain and the old jokes. I was reading about the new Indiana Jones movie .... Sean Connery declined to be in it and Harrison Ford, who is 65 I think, said that was ok, that he was old enough to play his own father.

Jeff said...

Hey, they expected Cannes to rip into the new Indy Jones picture and Harrison Ford, but apparently it's getting a thumbs-up.

Hard to go wrong with Harrison, young or old...

Sandalstraps said...


This has nothing whatsoever to do with your post. I simply wanted to leave you a comment apologizing that the comment you left on my post on torture did not post promptly.

I did not notice it in my inbox, and I have been on a blogging hiatus.

Anyway, though flagrantly tardy, your comment has finally escaped the purgatory of Blogger comment moderation. Thank you for your contribution to that discussion, and I'm sorry that I didn't notice it until now.


Jeff said...

Hey Straps!

How've you been? Thanks for the explanation. I was worried that perhaps somewhere along the line I'd offended you somehow. I'm glad it wasn't the case. Thanks again for the note, Chris.

Marcus Aurelius said...

I guess someone's an Obama fan!!

Jeff said...

Hey B.

;-D W'Sup?