The Corner

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A Speechwriter Chimes In


Further to Derb’s comments in re the matter of the ineffability of
Calvin Coolidge–and as an assist to K-Lo on what seems a slow
afternoon– a couple of thoughts:

1. As speechwriter in the Reagan White House, I often found myself
poring over the speeches of previous chief execs. Most of it was
dreck–I mean, really, the stuff was shockingly bad–with a long low
point running from the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle
of the twentieth. The two exceptions? Abraham Lincoln…and Calvin
Coolidge. Coolidge doesn’t seem to have been much good in person–I
never came across any account of his having moved an audience to
rapture–but he understood that the primary means of dissemination in
his day remained the newspaper, and the man could write. His prose is
dry, but it’s also economical, crisp, logical, and touched with a
certain spare beauty.

2. The Gipper himself thought highly of Coolidge–so highly that he
hung Cal’s portrait in the Cabinet Room.