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A Dignified President

Charlie Wingard

Charlie Wingard

Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson and Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

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From a speech at Hillsdale College by former Congressman Mike Pence. Mr. Pence was elected governor of Indiana last year:

There is no finer, more moving, or more profound understanding of the nature of the presidency and the command of humility placed upon it than that expressed by President [Calvin] Coolidge. He, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. “The day I became president,” Coolidge wrote, “[Calvin, Jr.] had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, ‘If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field,’ Calvin replied, ‘If my father were your father you would.”‘ His admiration for the boy was obvious.

Young Calvin contracted blood poisoning from an incident on the South Lawn of the White House. Coolidge wrote, “What might have happened to him under other circumstances we do not know, but if I had not been president . . .” And then he continued, “In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not. When he went, the power and glory of the Presidency went with him.”

A sensibility such as this, and not power, is the source of presidential dignity, and must be restored. It depends entirely upon character, self-discipline, and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic, but life itself. It communicates that the president feels the gravity of his office and is willing to sacrifice himself; that his eye is not upon his prospects but on the storm of history, through which he must navigate with the specific powers accorded to him and the limitations placed on those powers both by God and man.

– Mike Pence, “The Presidency and the Constitution,” Imprimis (October 2010), 3-4


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