Watching the outrage over the GOP failure to vote on Sandy relief aid reminds me of Calvin Coolidge.
Why? Because Silent Cal faced a disaster comparable in scope and destructiveness, the 1927 Mississippi River flood. He was the last president do what the right wing of the Republican party wants today: he resisted calls for federal disaster relief, a stand that was controversial even at the time. It was the last time that the national government failed to rescue the states from a natural catastrophe.
I just read a sympathetic biography of Coolidge. He was actually very progressive early in his career. Far from uncaring or cold, he was deeply devoted to family and friends. The deaths of younger sister and especially his oldest son devastated him.
But he was also a man out of step with his own times. In a decade during which car ownership exploded, he never learned to drive. He refused to use a phone, considering it undignified for a president.
A good, hard-working, decent man, but a template for 21st century leadership? Doubtful.