The Talkative President: The Off-The-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge

By Howard H. Quint; Robert H. Ferrell et al. | Go to book overview
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3 Life as President

A PRESIDENT'S personal life has always been treated as public property -- he quickly discovers that he cannot move about like other people, that his smallest decisions prove interesting to his fellow Americans. He learns that he could make dedicatory speeches 365 days a year were he to accept all of the invitations tendered him, that the President becomes a special personage, and the conveniences and ease of private life are things of the past. Never again can he achieve privacy. Even in retirement Coolidge discovered that people would drive past his Massasoit Street house in Northampton on Sunday afternoons, just to get a glimpse of him. Sometimes they tiptoed up to his windows and peeked in, to see how a former President sat in a chair or ate his dinner.

Coolidge accustomed himself to presidential life with a mixture of patience and annoyance. He found some White House visitors too curious about his personal affairs, and treated them with scant courtesy. Yet when it came time for the press conference and the reporters needed copy of some sort or other, perhaps about the President's daily life, Coolidge was willing to oblige. Once in a while he had to ask for more privacy, notably in the case of his son John who, whether attending Mercersburg Academy or Amherst College, found himself hounded by reporters. The President told the press conference that John was a boy like any other boy, and that press coverage of his school days should not be of interest to the nation nor would it help him.

-35-

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