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    Biden’s America and MBS’s Saudi Arabia: Is Diplomacy Possible?

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    Let's spare a few words for 'Silent Cal' Coolidge on July 4, his 150th birthday

    A woman sitting next to President Calvin Coolidge at a dinner party once told him she had made a bet that she could get him to say more than two words.

    “You lose,” replied Coolidge, who served as president from 1923 until 1929.

    During a White House recital, a nervous opera singer foundered through a performance before Coolidge. Someone asked him what he thought of the singer’s execution. “I’m all for it,” he said.

    Coolidge was so taciturn that he was known as “Silent Cal.”

    Three U.S. presidents – all of them Founding Fathers, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe – died on July 4.

    Only one was born on July 4.

    Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, 150 years ago, on July 4, 1872. He died in January 1933.

    Calvin Coolidge inspects a campaign truck painted with images of himself and his running mate, Charles G. Dawes.
    FPG/Getty Images

    Getting to know Coolidge

    Fireworks rarely followed Coolidge during his political career.

    Coolidge was balding, 5-foot-9 with a slight build, and he could walk into an empty room and blend in. He rarely smiled or changed expression. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, described Coolidge’s dour expression by saying he looked as if “he had been weaned on a pickle.”

    Such a description would not have offended Coolidge. “I think the American public wants a solemn ass as a president,” he said, “and I think I’ll go along with them.”

    Best known for a laugh or two

    The 30th president remains a footnote in the history of U.S. presidents. Coolidge was preceded in the White House by Warren Harding, whose administration was one of the most corrupt in U.S. history. Coolidge was succeeded by Herbert Hoover, who was in office when the country fell into the throes of the Great Depression, which began with the crash of the stock market in October 1929, several months after Hoover took office.

    Coolidge is probably best known for his contributions to books of political humor. I included him in a 2020 book I edited, “The Art of the Political Putdown: The Greatest Comebacks, Ripostes, and Retorts in History.”

    Coolidge, a Republican who believed in small government, low taxes, morality, thrift and tradition, rose quickly – but quietly – in Massachusetts politics, where he became president of the state Senate in 1914. While serving in this capacity, two senators got into a bitter exchange of words in which one told the other to go to hell. The recipient of the remark demanded that Coolidge take his side. “I’ve looked up the law, Senator,” Coolidge told him, “and you don’t have to go.”

    Coolidge was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1919. He soon earned a national reputation for being decisive by firing striking police officers in Boston and ordering the state militia to bring calm to the city after the strike had left its inhabitants vulnerable to violent mobs in September 1919.

    Warren Harding, the Republican presidential nominee in 1920, chose Coolidge as his running mate. Harding and Coolidge won the election. Coolidge then became president when Harding died in 1923.

    Early in his term, in December 1923, Coolidge spoke to Congress and pressed for isolation in U.S. foreign policy and tax cuts. He believed in small government and also benefited from the country’s strong economic position in the early 1920s. This helped his popularity rise, and he got more than 54% of the popular vote in the 1924 election.

    Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, eat ice cream at a garden party for veterans at the White House in an undated photo.
    Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

    A genius for inactivity

    If it was Coolidge’s decisive action that brought him to national attention, it was his inaction as president that defined his presidency and won him the admiration of political conservatives.

    Newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann wrote this about Coolidge in 1926: “Mr. Coolidge’s genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity, which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly.”

    Historians, however, praise Coolidge for presiding over low inflation, low unemployment and budget surpluses during every year of his presidency. He kept the country at peace and restored confidence in the government after the scandal-plagued Harding years.

    But being president and taking daily naps still apparently left Coolidge with a lot of free time.

    Coolidge reportedly liked to press the alarm buttons in the Oval Office, and when the Secret Service agents ran into the office to see what was wrong, he would be hiding.

    Coolidge decided not to run for reelection in 1928. When reporters asked him why, he answered with characteristic succinctness. “Because there’s no chance for advancement,” he said.

    If Coolidge had been reelected, he would have suffered Hoover’s fate of being president during the Depression. His political timing was as good as his comic timing.

    Social critic H.L. Mencken once speculated on how Coolidge would have responded to the collapse of the stock market and the collapse of the nation’s economy.

    “He would have responded to bad times precisely as he responded to good ones – that is, by pulling down the blinds, stretching his legs upon his desk, and snoozing away the lazy afternoons,” Mencken wrote. And yet the iconoclastic Mencken had this begrudging praise for Coolidge. “There were no thrills while he reigned, but neither were there any headaches. He had no ideas, and he was not a nuisance.”

    When American writer Dorothy Parker, who, like Coolidge, could say much with few words, learned that the former president had died in 1933, she replied, “How could they tell?” More

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    Who Can Put a Price on the Ukraine War?

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    Boris Johnson Goes “The Full Monty” at the G7 Summit

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    Russian Imperialism, Not NATO Expansion, Caused the Ukraine War

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    General Bajwa Has Reformed the Pakistani Military and Strengthened Democracy

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    Biden’s Golden Opportunity to Reverse Course on China

    The Fair Observer website uses digital cookies so it can collect statistics on how many visitors come to the site, what content is viewed and for how long, and the general location of the computer network of the visitor. These statistics are collected and processed using the Google Analytics service. Fair Observer uses these aggregate statistics from website visits to help improve the content of the website and to provide regular reports to our current and future donors and funding organizations. The type of digital cookie information collected during your visit and any derived data cannot be used or combined with other information to personally identify you. Fair Observer does not use personal data collected from its website for advertising purposes or to market to you.As a convenience to you, Fair Observer provides buttons that link to popular social media sites, called social sharing buttons, to help you share Fair Observer content and your comments and opinions about it on these social media sites. These social sharing buttons are provided by and are part of these social media sites. They may collect and use personal data as described in their respective policies. Fair Observer does not receive personal data from your use of these social sharing buttons. It is not necessary that you use these buttons to read Fair Observer content or to share on social media. More

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    The Supreme Court tends to save the biggest rulings for last – a constitutional expert explains a few good reasons

    The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law on June 23, 2022 that had imposed strict limits on carrying a handgun in public. It was a much anticipated decision, as the court continues to issue opinions ahead of wrapping its term in the next week or two.

    But people were being kept waiting about when exactly the court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade, will be issued.

    The court announces what days it will release rulings and is only scheduled to announce more on June 24. No one outside the court knows which major rulings will be published when – or if the court could decide to release more opinions into early July.

    There’s a reason the court remains so secretive and why its abortion ruling appears likely to be one of the last before the court lets out for the summer. We asked constitutional scholar and Supreme Court expert Stefanie Lindquist to explain what’s behind the court keeping a tight lid on its work.

    US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks with his legal clerks in 2002.
    Dave Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

    Does research back up this idea that the court saves the most high-profile rulings for last?

    There has been very careful research done by very distinguished scholars and judges who tested the proposition that the court’s most important decisions are handed down late in the term. They measured importance based upon the extent to which the New York Times covered that case. And their research confirmed that it is absolutely true that the most highly important decisions the court renders – ones that overturn precedent, for example – aren’t announced until the end of the term.

    One reason may be because the court is being particularly careful about the content of those decisions. And because they might have involved more negotiations over the content of the opinion itself, or involved the extra work of writing dissents and concurrences.

    Is it clear why they release these major decisions at the end of the term?

    There’s been some speculation they want to wait to issue these opinions right before they leave town. Because they’re social creatures as all of us are, some speculate that they don’t want to have to discuss these cases in their social circles. But I think it’s most likely that it is a combination of workload and because these cases are more time intensive. The justices also understand the public impact these cases can have. But, ultimately, it’s not clear exactly why they do it.

    The court is known for its secrecy. What’s the point of the court being so tight-lipped about its decisions?

    The court is an institution that has, over time, very carefully husbanded its legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

    The late Justice Antonin Scalia required his clerks to sign an agreement respecting the privacy of the court’s deliberations. He told them that if they violated this secrecy, he would do everything he could to undermine their future careers.

    The court is very careful about ensuring that once it issues an opinion, it is the final opinion. Revealing any internal and potentially divisive dynamics related to the court’s decision-making process could undermine the force and effect of a Supreme Court decision.

    Police stood guard outside Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in June as protestors marched past his home.
    Nathan Howard/Getty Images

    Why do they not even say when a specific decision will be announced?

    I think it’s probably difficult for them to predict the exact timing of decisions, frankly. Remember, the court’s final opinions are the result of a negotiation among the individual justices. And until they’re ready, they can’t necessarily say, “This is the day we’re going to sign off,” especially at the end of the term when many of these very important decisions are announced.

    There may be negotiations and proofreading up to the very last minute. The justices no doubt appreciate that these highly important decisions are going to end up in law school textbooks. They’re going to be carefully read by journalists. And the justices are a highly professional group of individuals.

    So they’re concerned about every opinion they issue. But with these opinions they issue at the end of the term, that tend to be the most important decisions they render – they’re even more concerned about being precise in every sentence they write More