Coolidge Blog

The Great 1928 Budget Debate

We tend to project our own assumptions about party positions onto events long past. For example, we assume that Democrats always advocated for increased government spending, at least more so […]

The Coolidges Move West

Are you a Coolidge? Coolidge family members and friends will be gathering at Plymouth Notch, Vt to mark the 99th anniversary of Coolidge’s historic homestead inauguration. Below, attendee Christine Coolidge […]

Tige, the Presidential Cat, Goes Missing in A Snowstorm: Radio Comes to The Rescue.

By Jerry Wallace The Coolidges were both pet lovers. The President was particularly fond of cats, while the First Lady was partial to dogs. A pair of kittens arrived at […]

The President’s Son and the Railroad

By John Ferrell If historians were asked to list similarities between Robert Todd Lincoln and John Coolidge, they would quickly answer that both were sons of presidents from humble beginnings. […]

Silence is Golden: What Politicians Can Learn from Silent Cal

June 8, 2015

By Sam Izzo

“I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”

Calvin Coolidge

“Silent Cal” is one of the most famous sobriquets ever bestowed on an American president, right up there with Honest Abe, Tricky Dick, King Andrew (Jackson), and my personal favorite, His Rotundity (John Adams). As evident from this list, presidential nicknames are not necessarily bestowed out of affection, as with a pet name; they often have less to do with policy or accomplishments and more with the president’s personal attributes and idiosyncrasies. With Silent Cal, it appears to be both poking fun at his laconism and an indictment of perceived political weakness.

Yet perhaps modern politicians could learn something from Silent Cal. After all, Coolidge held eight public offices, including governor, vicepresident, and president, and lost only one election, which was for a local school board. Perhaps Coolidge won in part because of his brevity, not in spite of it.rtrl_0001_0001_0_img0073

The virtues of silence may be even more important in elections today, given the rise of social media. Indecorous off-hand remarks, inappropriate texts, or inadvertently offensive tweets can ruin a person’s public image and create scandal. Mitt Romney learned this lesson in 2012 when a journalist secretly recorded his less-than-tactful remark about the 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax.

As every speech, conversation, and gesture gets uploaded and cataloged for the world to scrutinize, modern political candidates can learn from Silent Cal’s example: say precisely what you mean and do not fear silence, because what you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

One Response to “Silence is Golden: What Politicians Can Learn from Silent Cal”

  1. Hal Meeks

    He’s my favorite president, hands down. If only more Presidents could be like him.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>