Thursday, June 26, 2008

Calvin Coolidge: Coolly avoiding blame for the Great Depression

Thanks for letting Native Americans be U.S. citizens, Cal! And no need to regulate the economy, just keeeeeep lowering taxes.

Calvin Coolidge was born John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., but I assume he went by Calvin to avoid being confused with his dad. This would make sense except for that the future President Coolidge later named his own sons John (not junior) and Calvin, Jr. WTF? Calvin Coolidge was apparently never known to be a very creative man. He was from Vermont, but went to Amherst and passed the bar in Massachusetts. Then he held a bunch of local and state offices in Massachusetts. Blahblahblah. While he was governor of the MA in 1918 or so, the Boston police went all Newsies and tried to form a union through the AFL:

Probably with less adorable musical numbers, however. But so there was a strike, and the mayor of Boston fucked things up, and when Coolidge finally intervened, he was like, "Dear policemen: way to let all this rioting and looting happen in the city, you're totally fired. Oh, and fuck you, Samuel Gompers."* Then other folks were like, "Yeah, fuck those Commie union bastards!" and totally wanted to be BFF with Calvin. Although he did reduce women and children's work week from 54 to 48 hours while governor. Can you say pinko? Anyhow, he was chosen as Warren G. Harding's running mate by party bosses in a smoke-filled room.

So they got elected, and Harding had the audacity (who knew he had a fan in Obama!) to die in office, so Cool Cal got an immediate upgrade. He presided over what came to be known as the "Roaring Twenties." I think this had something to do with a proliferation of leonine merchandise in American popular culture. Or something. He was reelected in 1924, after running a campaign in which he didn't even mention his opponent's name. I will not name his opponent here either, because I would have to go back to Wikipedia and look it up. But anyway, the Coolster kind of thought the federal government should be hands-off so he promoted lowering taxes, kind of just let the economy do whatevs, and also kind of mismanaged/refused to actually manage the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Sound familiar, anybody? Eventually he put all-around winner Herbert Hoover in charge of some bullshit recovery effort, but he was mostly just like, "Fuck you, property owners, I'm too busy lowering taxes and not joining the League of Nations and giving lots of historical interviews on the newfangled radio box-machine."

President Coolidge is aware of all radio traditions.**

So he decided not to run again in 1928, but was like, "Maybe in 1932. I'm gonna take a nap now." He was kind of wishy-washy about his support for the Hoovster (probs 'cause he was kinda lame), and went on to write a newspaper column entitled "Calvin Coolidge Says." This was a lamer, print version of the game "Simon Says," in which he advocated fiscal conservatism and watched the over-speculative economy collapse. Or maybe it was an advice column. I don't know. He declined to run in Hoover's place in '32, and died of a heart attack in '33. I imagine he went very quietly. ('Cause he's silent, see?)

Random list of facts about Calvin Coolidge:

1. The only election he ever lost was one for the local school board in 1904.

2. He is the only sitting U.S. President to have visited Cuba. This happened in 1928. Castro was 2, and probably already serving as president-for-life. (Shakes fist at Fidel.) Perhaps he managed to pick up some cigars for his friends back in the ol' Republican Smoke-Filled Room.

3. He was against-ish Prohibition. Like, he didn't think it was cool, but he wasn't going to openly oppose it. We can all hope that he secretly carried a flask.***

4. He thought women should vote. About goddamn time.

5. His wife Grace was very gregarious and the life of the party. He was called "Silent Cal" in comparison to her, though he was considered quite a good public speaker. Kind of like me: see, I enjoy public speaking on occasion, and am not too bad at it, but enjoy all kinds of speaking much more when I'm drinking. Oh wait, that's nothing like Calvin Coolidge. That's just alcoholism. Damn it.

6. He was the first U.S. President to appear on sound film. And to do a bunch of shit on the radio.

*His name has always reminded me of a pair of dentures. You know, like CHOMPERS. Heh heh.

**Also, he could apparently operate a telephone.

***News: Ka$h and I are getting flasks in the mail soon. Public drunkenness has never been easier.

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