June 26, 2007

A Plug for Cal of Blessed Memory

Coolidge, who sardonically called Hoover a “wonder boy” and who memorably stated, “The chief business of the American people is business,” is presented as a kind of Zen saint, a pillar of inaction: “Coolidge had long ago determined that the world would do better if he involved himself less. [He] believed that the work of life lay in holding back and shutting out. He conducted his official life according to his own version of the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath—first, do no harm.” Shlaes hails his decision to leave the Presidency after five and a half years (thus ducking the crash and its consequences) as “another of Coolidge’s acts of refraining, his last and greatest.”

--John Updike, reviewing Amity Shlaes's The Forgotten Man
Updike became a Democrat because his dad had a hard time in the Depression and FDR made him feel better.

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