Letter: Good Leader for Coolidge Foundation

To the Editor:

A recent letter (“What’s Up at the Coolidge Foundation?” March 16) fired unwarranted salvos at an organization making an effort to elevate the good name of Vermont’s favorite son, Calvin Coolidge, a president whose stature has long been diminished by academia.

Many historians have mistakenly blamed Coolidge for the Great Depression, with the net effect that most Americans bear a negative view of the last president to preside over a reduction in the size and cost of the federal government, actions that prompted a period of unprecedented prosperity. Coolidge’s wisdom and accomplishments should be hailed. Instead, the Coolidge Foundation struggles to get “Silent Cal” the long overdue positive recognition he deserves. It is worth noting that the “bipartisan” participation of the likes of Jimmy Carter, Madeline Kunin and Howard Dean (each of whom hold a diametrically opposite view of the proper role of government) has accomplished little in advancing the proper legacy of Calvin Coolidge.

The same letter complained about foundaton director Amity Shlaes, therein denigrated as a “conservative writer,” a characterization that overlooks the fact that she is very erudite and an accomplished author. She was a senior economic fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations (focusing on economic history) and has been an adjunct associate professor of economics at New York University. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and The New York Times, among many others.

Shlaes literally wrote the book on Coolidge. In preparing her recent Coolidge biography, she “assiduously researched Coolidge’s life, drawing both on his private papers (going so far as to photograph his appointment books) and on contemporary newspaper reports,” according to the Times. Previously she penned the much heralded Forgotten Man, an economic history of the Great Depression.

It is difficult to imagine anyone who is more qualified to direct the Coolidge Memorial Foundation.

Dick Tracy