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President Obama could learn from Calvin Coolidge

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Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:36 am, Sat Jul 7, 2012.

A few weeks ago in my column, I wondered why President Obama chose to run for re-election. Had Obama declined the nomination, he could have retired from politics as the first African-American president, elected in a landslide and a Nobel Prize winner. Obama could then declare victory on all fronts and start his new career as a multimillion dollar author and public speaker.

Now that Obama decided to run, however, he can only lose either literally or figuratively. Mitt Romney may unseat Obama or, if the president prevails, he'll have to spend four years fighting an uncooperative Congress, possibly Republican-controlled, and will go out as most lame duck presidents do — unpopular.

As I pondered Obama's dilemma this past Independence Day, I thought of 30th President Calvin Coolidge, conveniently (for the purposes of this essay) born on the Fourth of July.

In 1929, Coolidge wrote "The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge," with the final chapter titled "Why I Chose Not to Run."

You probably haven't spent much time lately considering Coolidge and likely know little more about him than his nickname, "Silent Cal." But I recommend his book to you for the invaluable insights it offers into Coolidge, a president born on a Vermont farm who could translate Cicero from Latin into English and wrote his own speeches. With only 250 pages, the book is an easy read.

Coolidge began his political career in 1916 as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor, and by 1919 became the Bay State's governor. In 1920, Coolidge unexpectedly ran for Vice President on the same ticket as the eventual Republican winner Warren G. Harding. Coolidge became nationally prominent.

In 1923, Harding died while touring California. Coolidge finished out Harding's term and then, riding a wave of enormous popularity, won handily in 1924.

But when 1928 rolled around, Coolidge had no desire to serve another term. Although his re-election was guaranteed, Coolidge wanted no part of spending 10 years total in the White House.

Eloquently explaining his reasoning in his book, Coolidge warned that men in high office suffer from the "malady of self-delusion" and are "surrounded by worshipers" that "assure them of their greatness." Those circumstances, concluded Coolidge, create "an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgement. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant."

Coolidge examined the records of two-term presidents and found that in their second four years they "showed very little in the way of constructive accomplishment." Then, as if forecasting the challenges that await Obama, Coolidge wrote that as a president's time in office grows longer, the numbers of the disappointed grow proportionately. Coolidge opined: "Finally, there is so large a body of those who have lost confidence in him that he meets a rising opposition which makes his efforts less effective."

In conclusion, Coolidge noted that he returned to the people as a private citizen, and he wanted to do so as the popular man he had been throughout his administration.

Withdrawing voluntarily is admirable and noble. To drag the nation through a nasty, finger-pointing, self-serving campaign is neither. I might add that Coolidge's wisdom isn't necessarily limited to sitting presidents only.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, meet President Calvin Coolidge.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Despite rumors to the contrary, Joe is not old enough to have voted for Coolidge. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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38 comments:

  • Kim Lee posted at 2:24 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    Kim Lee Posts: 1798

    Jim Cooke quoted Coolidge, "I didn't see any opportunity for advancement."

    Good quote. That sure would be a perfect reason not to run for president. And if any candidate feels this way I sure hope he or she does indeed stay out of the running.

     
  • Jim Cooke posted at 1:55 pm on Sun, Jul 15, 2012.

    jimcooke Posts: 1

    Unlike most readers of this column - I've spent considerable time considering Calvin Coolidge. Since 1985 I've performed a solo history Calvin Coolidge: "More Than Two Words".
    Yes, Coolidge is eloquent in describing his reasons for not seeking another term. Most second terms are disappointing if not embarrassing. Additionally, he observes that by taking another term - he would serve longer as president than anyone else ever had. "It is a good idea to get out while they still want you." My favorite reason: "I didn't see any opportunity for advancement."

     
  • Kim Lee posted at 7:31 pm on Fri, Jul 13, 2012.

    Kim Lee Posts: 1798

    I wonder if Joe Guzzardi would suggest that any of our republican presidents read Coolidge's book and take note of his comments or is Guzzardi just after the democrats.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:17 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Ms. Bobin,

    You've done a fine job at changing the subject to China. It's probably to your benefit since you really don't have a leg to stand on the Romney Swiss bank accounts. But, unfortunately, now you're saying you think you know more about China than Darrell.
    I highly doubt it.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 8:08 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850


    Ms. Bobin wrote:

    Borrowing from China? Who started that trend, Mr. Baumbach? Please don't tell me that you are that ignorant!

    -Chuckle,
    I'm sure Darrell knows much more about this issue than you do. I know it makes you feel good when you attack a person's intellect. Actually, on the issue of borrowing from China, It probably goes back to the Carter Admin. He's always been quite cozy with China. And the presidents following him have tried to improve relations with China. Borrowing money from China isn't necessarily a bad thing. The U.S. has a pretty much open door policy on who wants to invest here. Are you saying you are opposed to foreign investment in the U.S.?

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:50 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Ms. Bobin,

    It's not the issue of the expatriots the Obama Admin. and the liberal media is up in arms about. It's Romney's swiss bank accounts. So now you're realizing these expatriots may not be the best people to focus on because some may have Swiss bank accounts because of their illegal activites. We really don't know this for sure. And we really don't know the whole story behind Romney's Swiss bank accounts. This issue to me is getting old because if there was something dishonest about these accounts we would have found out long ago.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:55 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    And speaking of Communist friends, who is it in this forum who constantly speaks of how China is one of the most intelligently run countries on the face of the Earth.

    For the life of me, I cannot imagine why you have chosen not to move to Beijing, one of the "cleanest" and least polluted cities on the face of the Earth. A model of government's "hands-off" policiies when it comes to regulating industries.

    Probably a Chinese communist scheme to eliminate most of its population by polluting them to death. I urge you to abandon Thailand and take off for Beijing!!

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:49 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    You and Mr. Baumbach have really made my evening with your idiotic comments.

    Don't tell me that you two actually take yourselves seriously!!

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:47 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    They are expatriates....for a reason. Don't tell me you are that ignorant, Mr. Docktor!

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:46 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Borrowing from China? Who started that trend, Mr. Baumbach? Please don't tell me that you are that ignorant!

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 6:50 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    The liberal media has never really done any investigating who originally opened up
    these Swiss bank accounts of Romneys. Perhaps his father did and Romney has just kept adding money to it through the years. Unless the Obama admin and the liberal media can prove Romney is funneling money to these accounts from illegal activities they really don't have a case.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 6:46 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    But Ms. Bobin,

    You've been implying having a Swiss bank account means one may not be altogether honest about their finances. So now you're saying it's ok for these expatriots to have Swiss bank accounts. You seem to have some double standards. Or are you now saying you may have to reconsider supporting these expatriots? I know you didn't intentionally paint yourself into a corner. But this seems to be the case.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:27 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated...I doubt Romney keeps very much money in American banks. Since he ONLY pays the low, low capital gains tax rate, he ONLY has investments, not the measily amount banks currently pay on deposits.

    I see Ms Bobin is showing why we should vote for Romney. Good job Ms Bobin. Here I thought you were an Obama sheeple... I was wrong.

    Obviously, Our country needs a leader who has successful experience in the private sector.Romney has made money and alot of it through business. Obama is a failed president who has no experience in the private sector and has demonstrated he only knows how to borrow money from his communist friends in China.


     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 5:25 pm on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    It doesn't matter whether they have Swiss bank accounts.

    They aren't running for president.

    I doubt Romney keeps very much money in American banks. Since he ONLY pays the low, low capital gains tax rate, he ONLY has investments, not the measily amount banks currently pay on deposits.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:26 am on Tue, Jul 10, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Ms. Bobin wrote:

    There's a big difference between hiding income in off-shore and Swiss accounts to avoid taxes and expatriates doing a fund raiser in Switzerland.

    -Of course there's a big difference. However, I doubt you can assure us none of these expatriates have Swiss bank accounts. And, the Democrats try to distract the public from Obama's miserable track record by getting them to focus on rtomney's Swiss bank account that is perfectly legal Many wealthy politicians, D and R, have Swiss bank accounts and or offshore bank accounts because they can because they are fed up with the taxes, especially corporate taxes they must pay. It may be a double standard for Romney to suggest Americans deposit their money in American banks. And I'm sure he tries to keep most of his money in American banks. However,he does business with people and companies all over the world. Again, there's nothing illegal about having Swiss bank accounts.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:06 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Yes, Intellectual woman who is conservative. I find her kind, gentle and aggressive to protect people who are attacked by people like you Ms Bobin.

    Your description of Ms Malkin actually sounds exactly like you, except left wing.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 3:30 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Docktor wrote: "The Democratic wizards of election-year optics believe that such populist rhetoric demonizing foreign money will help shore up their left flank and win independents tired of crony, out-of-touch government. "

    "Demonizing foreign money?"

    There's a big difference between hiding income in off-shore and Swiss accounts to avoid taxes and expatriates doing a fund raiser in Switzerland.

    That is exactly the type of clap-trap that Malkin writes for the ignorants of the world who believe they are equivalent.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:46 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin misunderstands ...again...

    I clearly stated that it would be inappropriate for me to state a comparable to what she stated about Mr Doctor.

    Ms Bobin states that one might think Mr Docktor is in love with Mr Guzzardi. I thought that was inappropriate and bizarre. I then attempt to make an equally bizarre post that would be equally bizarre. That of course means that I " DO NOT" have any way way of knowing anything about Ms Bobin's private life. To the best of my knowledge, she is happily married. My post was simply to compare what she actually stated and believes to a fictious example that would be equally inappropriate.

    I am happy that you would save your comments with my response for potential lawsuites as it would be helpful to me in demonstrating your bizarre behavior. Thank you Ms Bobin.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:02 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Barrow wrote: "I don’t understand Joe’s obsession with California he left the state due to his aversion to the color brown but he just can’t let it go."

    Joe Guzzardi knows that many of his Lodi audience is just the ticket for the type of twaddle he is peddling.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:58 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Intellectual woman? Malkin is a vile, hate spewing, extreme right-wing racist.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:57 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    "you would think Ms Bobin is a jilted lover of Mr Guzzardi. If I did say that, I would be lowering myself to her level... so clearly, it would be inappropriate for me to state what so many might be thinking. right Ms Bobin? "

    You just did say it, Mr. Baumbach. One I think I WILL save for any upcoming law suits you might be contemplating.

    "many might be thinking?"

    Only your perverted mind would come up with that one, Mr. Baumbach.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:51 pm on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Docktor commented on Saturday, at 5:04PM:

    -Ms. Bobin,

    You could at least provide us with some facts to back up your OPINION in your short OPED above. I have many facts to back up my opinion the woes of the economy back then did not rest solely on the shoulders of Bush.

    You, on the other hand, think quite the contrary, and that is sufficiently enough evidence to determine you are full of S#$T.

    My, my, my, Mr. Docktor. Apparently, you did not read the rules above. I wonder if that last comment was enough to FINALLY get you banned from this site so we are no longer subject to your racist, vile commentary? Temper, temper!

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:57 am on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr Barrow stated...It appears Joe has seen the writing on the wall. He understands that Obama is likely to win in November and now hopes Obama will just get tired of being President and quit

    Mr Barrow jests. Obviously the election could easily go either way. It is far to early to predict any outcome. Mr Barrow thinks its in the bag for the Democrats. Good! I like his position.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:48 am on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Ms Bobin stated... My, my, my. Judging by Mr. Docktor's multiple posts in protest of my comments about Joe Guzzardi, I would think you were either related to Guzzardi or in love with him!

    If I were to make as silly and bizarre of a remark as Ms Bobin, I would have to say, judging by Ms Bobin's long history of berating anything Mr Guzzardi writes, you would think Ms Bobin is a jilted lover of Mr Guzzardi. If I did say that, I would be lowering myself to her level... so clearly, it would be inappropriate for me to state what so many might be thinking. right Ms Bobin?

    As far as Michelle Malkin , it is predictable that Ms Bobin would not read anything she writes. Reading the truth from an intellectual woman like Malkin is hard to take for liberals like Ms Bobin.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 9:42 am on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1565

    It appears Joe has seen the writing on the wall. He understands that Obama is likely to win in November and now hopes Obama will just get tired of being President and quit.

    I don’t understand Joe’s obsession with California he left the state due to his aversion to the color brown but he just can’t let it go. I think Joe is hoping for a complete collapses of California's economy this would justify him fleeing to Pennsylvania.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:51 am on Mon, Jul 9, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    My, my, my. Judging by Mr. Docktor's multiple posts in protest of my comments about Joe Guzzardi, I would think you were either related to Guzzardi or in love with him!

    As for the woman below, I wouldn't read anything this hypocrite wrote, nor do I watch her nonsense on FOX News. She is a poster child for anchor babies, yet rails on about illegals who have children in the US and how they should not be allowed citizenship. If that were the case, anyone, like her parents who were only in the US on work visas, would not have had the opportunity to have two children who are citizens.

    By Michelle Malkin on July 4, 2012 at 12:03am

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:44 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Actually, Ms. Bobin,

    Joe Guzzardi wrotes mostly OPEDS. He gathers facts to back up his opinions.
    So, to say he shouldn't gather facts to back up his opinions is also saying you shouldn't be allowed to gather facts to back up your opinions.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:40 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    And as for you,Ms. Bobin. I would appreciate it if you would 1) tell the WHOLE truth instead of half truths or your version of the truth, and 2) stop trying to make the facts coincide with your opinions. Simple.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:37 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    No Ms. Bobin,

    You did not mention Obama has gone on to use Bush's counter-terrorism policies because they work.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:33 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    For those who enjoy Joe Guzzardi's columns, there are many more on vdare.com
    Just put in his name on search. The site is filled with columnists

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:26 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/obamas-swiss-cheese-campaign

    Obamas Swiss Cheese Campaign

    A clip:


    By Michelle Malkin on July 4, 2012 at 12:03am


    What's pale yellow, riddled with holes and not very sharp? President Barack Obama's renewed class-warfare attack on GOP opponent Mitt Romney.

    To kick off the Independence Day holiday, America's fundraiser-in-chief took to Twitter to stoke wealth-bashing resentment against Republicans. "FACT," Obama's official Twitter account declared, "In 2010, Romney reported having a $3 million Swiss bank account." Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina piled on, urging "every reporter covering Romney" to read left-wing Vanity Fair's new report on his offshore finances. In a water-carrying news conference call, Obama campaign flack Ben LaBolt assailed Romney's "mysterious corporation in Bermuda, his funds in the Cayman Islands and the Swiss bank account he opened."

    The Democratic wizards of election-year optics believe that such populist rhetoric demonizing foreign money will help shore up their left flank and win independents tired of crony, out-of-touch government. One problem: They launched their class war fusillade in the same week that Tinseltown tycoon George Clooney announced Obama fundraising efforts—in Geneva, Switzerland. Oops.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:17 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    No, I didn't leave them out. If you re-read my comment, you will see that I said he had a 90% approval rating for his fight against terrorism.

    Try reading before commenting, Mr. Docktor.

    It was everything that followed that has placed George Walker Bush into retirement obscurity, poor thing.

    Maybe Joe Guzzardi should have written this column back in 2004?

    As for Joe Guzzardi's columns, I would appreciate them more if he would 1) tell the WHOLE truth instead of half truths and/or HIS version of the truth, and 2) stop trying to make the facts coincide with his opinions. Simple.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:11 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Bush again? Yawn...Snore... I think the poll was commissioned by b HUESSEIN obama
    News flash Ms bobin… Bush has been gone for years. Obama has gotten his way on all policies he desired as he had a super majority in both houses.. Bush rarely got legislation passed without the obstructionist democrats throwing tantrums.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 1:06 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Joe Guzzardi wrote:

    Eloquently explaining his reasoning in his book, Coolidge warned that men in high office suffer from the "malady of self-delusion" and are "surrounded by worshipers" that "assure them of their greatness." Those circumstances, concluded Coolidge, create "an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgement. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant."

    -Evidently Ms. Bobin believes Obama is the first president to be not included from this accurate description of what happens to people in high office,

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 12:54 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Ms. Bobin conviently leaves out the Bush counter-terrorism policies that worked very well. have gone on to work very well for the Obama Admin.

     
  • Brian Dockter posted at 12:50 pm on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2850

    Joe Baxter,

    I have often wondered if there is SOMETHING that won't stroke the fur of the "Black Cat" backwards?

     
  • Joe Baxter posted at 10:35 am on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1889

    JOE GUZZARDI, I enjoy reading your columns. Your perspective is unique. I may not always agree with your take on the issues you address, but never quit submitting your writings. You always manage to stroke the fur of the "Black Cat" backwards and I find that, for no other reason, is worth the space and ink.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:46 am on Sat, Jul 7, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Joe Guzzardi wrote:

    "Coolidge wrote that as a president's time in office grows longer, the numbers of the disappointed grow proportionately. Coolidge opined: "Finally, there is so large a body of those who have lost confidence in him that he meets a rising opposition which makes his efforts less effective."

    The scenario that Joe Guzzardi imagines might be President Obama's fate - maybe.

    But it certainly was the fate of George WALKER Bush. From a popularity rating, according to Gallup, in 2002, of 90% as he rode high on his "handling" of terrorism, to a low of 30% when he left office at the end of 2008 and retired into obscurity.

    Add to that the majority opinion of the American people who still blame George WALKER Bush for our economics woes, according to a recent poll.

    The Guzzardi/Coolidge theory may be a "one size fits all."

     

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