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

By Calvin Coolidge; Howard H. Quint et al. | Go to book overview

1 • Fundamental Vermont

COOLIDGE'S countrymen may remember him more for his humor than for anything else. His was a dry wit, of course, never slipping into hilarity. Nor was it ever obscene. Lincoln was a master of the dirty joke; there is no record that Coolidge ever told one, though this is not to say that he did not or that he did not enjoy hearing one. In a way Coolidge's humor was like that of Will Rogers, his well-known contemporary. But Rogers, the professional humorist, worked carefully into his jokes, with a long windup before the "punch line," whereas Coolidge seemed to indulge in humor spontaneously. Coolidge never considered himself a jokester. His wit partook of the economy of Vermont -- he doled it out sparingly, always with a straight face. And it had to have a purpose other than mere amusement.

Coolidge did not point his humor at anyone, nor did he expect his fellow citizens to be humorous about him. He had a very large sense of the dignity of his office. When Will Rogers once imitated the President's twangy voice over the radio, the President took deep offense, and Rogers became persona non grata at the White House.

August 24, 1923

An inquiry about whether Mr. [Chauncey M.] Brush is to be Chairman of the Shipping Board. Well, of course, he isn't. Mr. Brush was an old time friend of mine that I knew in Boston when he was one of the officers, and I think later, the President of the Boston Elevated Railway. He dropped in yesterday morning to pay his respects and we chatted of old times and I inquired how he was getting along in his

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • I 5
  • 1 - Fundamental Vermont 7
  • 2 - The Press Conference 20
  • 3 - Life as President 35
  • II 51
  • 4 - Office of the President 53
  • 5 - The Role of Congress 87
  • 6 - Frugal Government 102
  • 7 - The Domestic Economy 113
  • III 145
  • 8 - The Defense Establishment 147
  • 9 - Debts and Reparations 174
  • 10 - The Old World and the New 201
  • 11 - Vexations of Imperial Power 222
  • 12 - Coping with China and Russia 254
  • Index 267
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