Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gasp! Calvin Coolidge trying to give a speech.

Who was the worst ever President on on the stump?

With the now-not-so-new modern miracle of You-Tube rare old videos pop up all the time. As a result, we get to see just how bad some of the pre-TV Presidents were at trying to talk.

Take a listen to Calvin Coolidge chatting away on the White House lawn in 1924.
"Silent Cal" was not a terrible President. In the C-SPAN president's poll this year, I ranked him solidly mediocre, as number 20 out of 43.
He presided over the Roaring Twenties and Coolidge Prosperity. He left town just before the bubble burst in the 1929 Stock Crash.

Coolidge was an "Accidental President." Republicans nominated him to run for Vice President in 1920 after Coolidge, as Massachusetts Governor, took a strong stand in the 1919 Boston Police Strike. When President Warren G. Harding died of food poisoning in 1923 at the height of the Teapot Dome Scandal, Coolidge took the top job.

Watching Coolidge talking from notes in his raspy voice makes you cringe. Could he ever be elected to anything today? We judge public figures today so much by the TV standard, how smooth they appear, how stylish they look, how well they speak. Is it all fluff?

Enjoy the time capsule. Here''s the link.
href="Calvin'>">Calvin Coolidge 1924.


Bruce J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce J said...

(Corrected version of an earlier comment)

Your attribution of Harding's death to food poisoning appears to be mistaken. I note that you made a similar reference in a post a month later in which you support the claim with a to an article on

But, in fact, that article does say that Harding died of food poisoning, only that he had a bout of it. Rather, the closing paragraph explains that it was due to a heart attack. True, Harding's own physician (Dr Sawyer), who reported an incident of food poisoning, disagreed with most in attributing it to a stroke. But I know of no one who believes the food poisoning itself, if it happened (and was not a mistaken diagnosis by his physician) was the cause of his death.

If you have further evidence or explanation of this claim, I would be very interested in seeing it.

Bruce J said...

My earlier comments omitted something more important. The youtube clip posted here is not simply Coolidge "chatting on the White House lawn". It is actually his reading a portion of his speech accepting the 1924 GOP nomination (originally given on August 14).

That speech is, oddly, not easy to obtain a full copy of, though subscribers to the NY Times may obtain it at the following link(and others may purchase it separately).

Incidentally, there is an interesting story surrounding the making of this particular tape. Part of it is that the company that shot it(De Forest PhotoFilm) used the clip to market their system, and that Coolidge was none to happy on discovering this. For more detail, check the comment section of the following post

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