Sole Man, Indeed

by Steven F. Hayward

John, your post below and yesterday’s about Ted Kennedy repeating the old canard about not being able to get Reagan to focus on policy issues shows what a slow learners all these folks still are. Calvin Coolidge used to say that most people who come to see you in the Oval Office are after something they ought not to get. Coolidge’s answer to this was to sit very still like a cigar store Indian for about three minutes, by which time folks would run out of gas and leave. That’s part of how Coolidge got the reputation as “Silent Cal.” Reagan, a Coolidge fan remember (I have a couple pages about the Reagan-Coolidge affinity in the new book), was much too gregarious to adopt the Coolidge strategy, so he told Hollywood stories and talked about shoes instead. This gave rise to the view that he wouldn’t focus on policy. What is really meant that all these Washington greybeards were being had, and some still haven’t figured this out.

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