Jacki: Calvin Coolidge

Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President, by Charles C. Johnson

You guys. Man. I picked the wrong book. I thought that this sounded like a fun deviation from the usual “he was born, he became a lawyer, he became president, he died” biography. The description sounded like it used these lessons we could learn from Coolidge as the structure as a biography and I guess I was sold.

Here is what the description didn’t say: This biography is a very, very thinly veiled ideological diatribe. The whole book I was getting annoyed because this dude CLEARLY drank some Coolidge kool-aid. He never even hinted that Coolidge had flaws or weaknesses or ever in his life did anything wrong. It got to where it was almost comical how unbiased and crazy it was.

So, here’s the thing. I learned very little about Coolidge and I just feel dirty after reading this and if I had another couple weeks of May I may read that other new Coolidge biography that has the pretty cover and I keep seeing everywhere. I should have read it anyway. I feel like I know very little of Coolidge as an actual man. There was a lot of politics and ideology here, but very little person. There was a bit about his history, but even that was super Coolidge Is God. Ick.

And I will say this, too: saying nice things and giving great speeches and having wonderful ideas does not make you a great president. I read this entire book and at the end, I couldn’t think of one thing that the guy actually DID. The author goes on and on and on about how underrated and overlooked Coolidge is and quotes a million and a half speeches but never mentions one thing that he did that stood the test of time, one thing that he did that changed history or the presidency or… anything. He just talked. And maybe he said great things. Who cares? Presidents aren’t just talking heads. If you have power and good ideas, do something about it, right? Right. I rest my case.

Read another biography.