A governmental chief executive, be it a president or governor, can significantly enhance his or her stature by having an intellectual-in-residence. Such an intellectual-in-residence will in most cases later become the chronicler of the administration in which he or she served.
For President John F. Kennedy, the intellectual-in-residence was his special assistant, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. After the assassination of JFK in Dallas in November, 1963, Schlesinger authored A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.
For former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, the intellectual-in-residence was his Assistant Secretary of State, Dr. Alvin S. Felzenberg. After Kean had concluded both his highly successful gubernatorial administration in January, 1990 and later his distinguished service as chair of the 9-11 Commission, Felzenberg authored Governor Tom Kean: From the New Jersey Statehouse to the 9-11 Commission. This book was not only the definitive biography of Tom Kean; it was also a must read for any prospective New Jersey gubernatorial candidate.
Kean and Kennedy were intellectuals themselves, so it was natural and comfortable for them to have intellectuals-in-residence. Not every president or governor is an intellectual. If the next Republican President of the United States is of an intellectual or policy bent, however, he or she will undoubtedly be inclined to have an intellectual-in-residence. Nobody could better fit this role than Amity Shlaes.
Shlaes first gained national fame in political circles with the publication in 2007 of her book, a bestseller, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. In this book, she asserted cogently that the New Deal policies of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually worsened the Great Depression while simultaneously creating a culture of entitlement in American society.
Today, February 12, 2013, the latest Amity Shlaes book, Coolidge, is being released and also scheduled for delivery to my home. In this work, Shlaes asserts that former President Calvin Coolidge was a man of goodness and greatness whose free market domestic policies were highly successful in fostering the healthy growth of the American economy from 1924 to 1929 and played no causal role regarding the Great Depression.
Advanced reviews of Coolidge are highly favorable. An example: Congressman Paul Ryan, who writes, “Amidst today’s economic hardships and an uncertain future, Shlaes illuminates a path forward — making Coolidge a must-read for policymakers and citizens alike.” I have a feeling that the other prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates will soon be reading Coolidge as well.
Shlaes, 52, also possesses a background of academic and journalistic experience unmatched by any other conservative of her generation. In addition to being an op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal in the early 1990s, this 1982 Yale graduate also served for a decade as a senior fellow in economic history on the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). She currently serves as director of the 4% Growth Project, a key economic initiative of the George W. Bush Institute.
Finally, Amity’s husband is Harvard graduate Seth Lipsky, the editor of the New York Sun, a man I have met on a number of occasions and for whom I have boundless admiration. I can assert without hyperbole that there is no greater intellectual couple in America than Amity Shlaes and Seth Lipsky.
I can’t predict who will be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, or whether he or she will win. I have a strong feeling, however, that the next Republican occupant of the White House will have a place for Amity Shlaes at his or her side.
Meanwhile, I plan to start my reading of Coolidge today and to write my column reviewing same soon.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.