Ranking Coolidge…again


Handsome First Couple, handsome economic performance!

Handsome First Couple, handsome economic performance!

While the title is “Second term unlucky” and the text highlights the historic fact that presidents’ second terms have mostly been characterized by deteriorating economic data, us Coolidge fans can take heart from The Economist’s chart of the day that shows our man doing not badly at all among the exclusive club of 11 two-term presidents since 1901 – the aggregate data for his two terms (more like one-and-a-half, actually) rank among the top.

Beware 2nd term ambitions

Just a short note today – this post by Tim Cavanaugh at reason.com caught my eye. Why? Because in the very first sentence, he mentions Calvin Coolidge, if only by way of contrast to Barack Obama: “The way President Barack Obama’s acolytes are calling for bold action in his second term, you’d think he had been some kind of prudent Calvin Coolidge in his first.”

And, of course, because I’m wary of the laundry list of progressive pet schemes that Obama and his minions are pushing, on the back of what they construe as his “mandate” from the electorate. Post-Coolidge, presidents have often entertained grand ideas, some of them because they genuinely thought they were doing something good for the country, some very likely because they were working on their own legacy and you don’t usually get a big write-up in history books, let alone a monument on the Mall, if you’re content to merely “do the day’s work,” as was Coolidge’s wont. If Calvin Coolidge was, in the words of Amity Shlaes, “the great refrainer,” Barack Obama surely aims for the title of “the great 21st century progressive,” and the great destroyer of Ronald Reagan’s legacy. Given the perilous state the nation’s finances are in already, this could not have come at a worse time.