An item in MPR Capitol View's Daily Digest:
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack says Calvin Coolidge is the president he admires most (sans Reagan).
The link heads to the FrumForum post, On Presidents’ Day: Lincoln is King:
On Presidents’ Day, Americans take a day to recognize the office of the presidency – and to reflect upon the country’s best.
FrumForum asked freshman Republican members which president they admired the most, but excluded President Reagan from contention to give the other presidents a fair chance. The fourteen Republican members who responded gave a range of answers, but President Abraham Lincoln came out on top. . . .
But not so for freshly-minted Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack, who opted for an early 20th century president:
Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN-8) pointed to the economic accomplishments of the Coolidge administration to explain his choice: “During the Coolidge administration the federal budget shrank, the national debt was cut in half, unemployment stood at 3.6%, consumer prices rose just 0.4% and Americans personal wealth increased 17.5%,” he said.
The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia's American President online reference resource paints a slightly different picture of Coolidge's Impact and Legacy:
Although the public liked and admired Calvin Coolidge during his tenure, the Great Depression that began in 1929, less than a year after he left office, seriously eroded his reputation and changed public opinion about his policies. Many linked the nation's economic collapse to Coolidge's poor policy decisions. His refusal to aid the depressed agricultural sector seems shortsighted, as nearly five thousand rural banks in the Midwest and South shut their doors in bankruptcy while many thousands of farmers lost their lands. His policies that favored tax cuts for the rich seriously contributed to an unfair distribution of wealth and the overproduction of goods. By 1929, the nation had over five hundred families with incomes over $1 million, and the top fifth of the population controlled nearly 60 percent of the nation's wealth. On the other hand, 70 percent of American families earned less than $2,500 a year, placing them at or near the poverty line for a family of four. Eighty percent, moreover, had no savings. Most of them were deeply in debt for having purchased consumer goods on easy installment credit terms.
Moreover, Coolidge's support for giant corporations meant that two hundred major corporations controlled more than 50 percent of the nation's wealth. Few of them were willing to lower prices because little competition existed. And with the European market generally saturated and dependent upon American loans, little room existed for shifting surplus production overseas. To make matters worse, many of the very rich and the upper-middle class had invested their surplus, untaxed wealth in speculative stocks rather than into savings or productive enterprises. . . .
Perhaps the implications of Cravaack's choice will sink in with Eighth CD voters, and Cravaack will be a one-termer like his ideal as the populace seeks a new congressional suitor.
On the other hand, I do give Coolidge credit for a terse sense of humor, especially for a guy who looked like he was weaned on a pickle.
Photo: Calvin Coolidge, all hat and no legacy.
Update: We're probably going to see a good bit of flooding this spring. Coolidge opposed federal involvement in flood control projects:
Coolidge has often been criticized for his actions during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Although he did eventually name Secretary Hoover to a commission in charge of flood relief, Coolidge's lack of interest in federal flood control has been criticized. Coolidge did not believe that personally visiting the region after the floods would accomplish anything, but would be seen only as political grandstanding. He also did not want to incur the federal spending that flood control would require; he believed property owners should bear much of the cost.
The flood (and a visit from Coolidge) is immortalized by Randy Newman: