Excerpts of the President's News Conference
I have an inquiry here about Mr. Warren and his appointment as Attorney General. I chose him, as I have told you, after careful investigation and my own knowledge of him, and after an investigation made by the Department of Justice into that case that was tried in the Courts relative to the American Sugar Company and the beet sugar companies in Michigan; and it did not appear to us that there was anything there that constituted any blemish on his record. I thought that he was a man of high character, eminence at the bar, and great ability, and would make a fine Attorney General. He has given a great deal of time to public service and has been willing to accept this position at a good deal of personal sacrifice. The sacrifice he has already made would be represented by a very large sum. I thought that he had failed of confirmation by such a narrow margin, and the vote was taken at a time when it was not possible adequately to present to the Senate his qualifications. I think the judgment to take the vote at that time was correct. Those of you who know about the Senate know that a condition will develop where you can take a vote and then if someone gets up and says two words it may be two weeks before another vote may be taken. But a great deal could have been said about Mr. Warren as to his standing and as to the high opinion that the people of Michigan hold in relation to him, and it would have to be put on record, and so, on account of this sacrifice that he has made and he having been willing to accept the office because I sought him out and solicited him, I thought I ought to give him the benefit of another nomination, and so I have done that. Now, I do not know what the attitude of the Senate will be. They will have to determine that.
I have here an ingenious suggestion that shows perhaps the difficulty of living up to what the standards of some of the Senators seem to be in relation to appointees to public office. This suggestion is that I should ask the Senate to send me a list of a dozen men—ideal men. Now, I cannot find such men, but some Senators evidently think that there are some whom I ought to present for the office: "Irreproachable private character; proper legal standard; requisite executive ability; never in any way connected with any large corporate interest; never publicly discussed in a detrimental way."
Now, of course I have to appoint human beings to office. I want them to be honest and conscientious and desirous of performing public service, but I cannot find any men who quite come up to that standard and I doubt if there are any in existence. If I have to be held up to a standard as high as that, I shall not be able to make any appointments.
PRESS: IS the person who submitted those qualifications suggesting any names?
PRESIDENT: NO. He says I ought to ask the Senate for a dozen men who could meet those requirements.
PRESS: IS he humorous?
PRESIDENT: NO. It is a suggestion, so that I may put the Senate "in a hole, " as they say. I suppose that is the meaning of it. Of course, that I do not care to engage in.
PRESS: Do you care to express any opinion as to whether Mr. Warren ought to have a chance of self-defense?
PRESIDENT: Well, I think that his qualifications ought to be presented to the Senate and go into the record, and that is one of the reasons why I have re-submitted his name. Telegrams have come in from people in Michigan, and I think that because of his character and eminence, it would be proper to have those go in the record.
I haven't thought much, if anything, about a recess appointment. I hope very much that the necessity for that will not arise. I cannot make any statement because I haven't reached any determination. I simply try to discharge my duties as President of the United States in a way that would seem to be best for the people. I haven't a private opinion about it. I presume there are a good many other good men who could be appointed, though I haven't been able to think of anyone that I could appoint who seemed to possess the qualifications as well as Mr. Warren does. There may be a good many others, and un-doubtedly there are. I do not know whether he would consent to a recess appointment. It is doubtful. I haven't considered that.
I think the Senate ought to realize that I have to have about me those in whom I have confidence; and unless they find a real blemish on a man, I do not think they ought to make partisan politics out of appointments to the Cabinet. I do not object to their criticizing any-thing I do or any nomination I may make—that is to be expected—but I do not think it ought to be made a partisan question as to whether the nomination should be rejected. Otherwise, I would be in position where I would not be able to function—I would not be able to fill up my Cabinet. I realize the responsibility that the Senate has. I want to discharge my responsibility with such candor as I can, and I think probably the Senate will do the same.
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I want to see a further limitation of naval armament. I would delight to see something relative to a limitation of land armament, but we have made our reduction of land armament and we haven't anything we could offer in that respect. Several of the European nations have made their reduction, so that they have nothing to offer. And I would not want to put the United States and other nations in a position of attempting to coerce any of the nations that might have considerable land armaments into a reduction against their will, as such action would not be helpful—it would not be productive of that harmony and peaceful intercourse that we want to maintain with all other armed countries. But if it appears that the European proposal has been definitely abandoned, why then I am going to take up with Secretary Kellogg seriously the question of whether the time has come when we can take some steps.
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Here is another interesting question—I touched on this general subject slightly in my Inaugural Speech—asking whether I will not discuss the possibility of early withdrawal of the American occupation of Haiti. Of course, we want to withdraw. We had made some plans to withdraw. We have there a few marines—sent there for the purpose of maintaining peace and order and protecting American interests, and, incidentally, perhaps more than incidental, for protecting also the Haitians. But the Government of Haiti sent a very strong request that we continue the occupation, and that we have done.
Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.
Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/349099