John Steele Gordon explains for Commentary magazine’s online readers how our current president’s political predicaments might have been avoided had he followed the example of Calvin Coolidge.

As Roger L. Simon points out, among the big losers in the George Zimmerman trial is Barack Obama. He injected utterly gratuitous emotion into the affair at an early point by saying that had he had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. This, in turn, empowered race baiters like Al Sharpton to stir up trouble and turn a fairly routine homicide case into a national circus. The case against Zimmerman was so weak that the local police chief and district attorney, who thought Zimmerman’s actions had been justified, had to be fired in order to obtain an indictment that should never have been brought in the first case. Fortunately, the jury did its duty and thus, as one of the defense attorneys said, a tragedy was not turned into a travesty.

Obama has a history of shooting his mouth off and getting himself—and often a lot of other people—into trouble. When Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates got into an altercation with a Cambridge, Massachusetts, policeman, the president, ignorant of the facts, said that the policeman had “acted stupidly.” It turned out that the policeman had acted strictly by the book and it was Gates who had acted stupidly.

Now it is being reported, by the New York Times no less–and on the front page–that an off-hand remark by the president has severely complicated military sexual assault cases. …

… Perhaps the 44th president should do himself—and the country—a favor by taking a few minutes to go stand in front of the White House portrait of the 30th president, and absorb some of Calvin Coolidge’s wisdom regarding the value of silence.