Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 01, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. We will start the questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: We are well aware, sir, of your disinclination to discuss personalities, but we wondered if you would make an exception today; this being the day it is, we wonder if you would give us your formula for 43 years of successful marriage. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't any formula. I can just say it's been a very happy experience and speaking from the advantage of my years, I would say this: that a successful marriage I think gets happier as the years go by; that's about all.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, do you see any solution to the quarrel between Congress and the executive branch of the Government over the question of freedom of information?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know exactly what you are adverting to when you say freedom of information.

This question, from the time of Washington, has been a live one. When the Executive determines that something will damage the security of the United States or its vital interests, then it withholds information that possibly could be put out. But, I don't know of any specific thing which you are talking about at this moment.

Q. Mr. McGaffin: Mr. President, if I could just spell it out briefly: Congress seems perturbed over various instances where they feel that the executive branch has misused the claim of Executive privilege and denied them information which they feel they should have. For instance, there are evaluation reports made by the ICA on certain countries which have received mutual security, Formosa, Laos, Brazil, Guatemala, a whole string of them, and Congress has raised the point where they are going to try to pass a law which would compel ICA to turn that information over to them.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are certain things, particularly in the security field that, if you reveal, are very obviously damaging the United States; and I think anyone of good sense will see that. You simply must take measures to see that those things are not revealed.

For example, suppose you have a method of getting information. Now, that particular information can be obtained only in one way. Therefore you reveal it. Instantly, you can topple an entire system of getting information. So, there are all sorts of things that simply cannot be revealed.

There is nothing new about this. There seems to be a sort of a congenital built-in mutual opposition that I don't know why it occurs, I don't particularly feel it personally, but I know it's there and at times it comes to my attention in one form or another.

But, I am using my own conscience on the matter and when such things as these come to me for decision, I shall continue to do so.

Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: Now that the new fiscal year is upon us, do you have any plans for a special message to the people regarding the fiscal problems?

THE PRESIDENT. Not for the moment, not for the moment; no.

Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, in view of some recent statements by British statesmen indicating that they feel that a summit conference may already be justified by the Geneva talks, I wonder if you could reconcile the apparent differences between ourselves and the British?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you say the differences between ourselves and the British. There are just as many opinions in Britain as there probably are in our country about the wisdom of many of the procedures contemplated in this field of negotiation.

Now, we have always taken the attitude here that there was no use to convene, or to go to a summit meeting, unless there was some ground discovered or prepared by the legitimate diplomatic agencies of governments which give some kind of promise to this summit meeting.

Now, this was the opinion and conviction of the foreign ministers as they came back from Geneva, when they arranged the recess, and I think it still is.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, the House Un-American Activities opened a hearing this morning on the type of art that we are sending to the American Exhibit in Moscow. More than half the artists have some record of Communist affiliation-with the movement.

One picture, for instance, depicts an American general in the most unflattering way, and the artist has said that generals of the armies are a continuation of the class struggle.

Would you review our presentation there to make sure that it truly represents Americans to the Russians?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will say this: this is exactly the way the thing is done. The authorization for this fair, which is a very huge affair, and this furor about the art is really a relatively minor sector, as those of you who have been up to the Russian place--my goodness, the art is down in two fairly small rooms and the exhibition is all over two floors.

Now, in the same way, in our place, the artistic representation is only a minor part of this business. But no one in the Government had a single thing to do with it except Mr. Allen, as the official responsible for this kind of thing, appointed a committee. Now, who he got to advise him on appointing the committee I don't know; but this committee was made of curators of art museums, and I believe one of them was a president, and I believe another one was an artist, and so on. 1 They did make this rule--now this, I don't know why they told me after the event, because naturally there were details of which I know nothing--the detail is that there would be no art, no piece of art or painting that went over to Moscow except those produced since 1918, since the First World War.

1 As announced by the White House on February 24, the committee members, designated by George V. Allen, governmental coordinator of the exhibition, included Franklin C. Watkins, instructor of painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pa.; Lloyd Goodrich, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Henry Radford Hope, chairman of the Fine Arts Department of Indiana University; and Theodore Roszak, distinguished American sculptor.

Now this one of which you speak was produced in 1946. It looks like a lampoon more than art, as far as I am concerned. But I am not going, I assure you, I am not going to be the censor myself for the art that has already gone there. Now I think I might have something to say, if we have another exhibition anywhere, to the responsible officials of the methods they get the juries. Possibly there ought to be one or two people that, like most of us here, say we are not too certain exactly what art is but we know what we like. What America likes is after all some of the things that ought to be shown.

Now there are one or two artists, for example I think one of the artists in the classical sense like Andrew Wyeth--there is his picture; it was a woman, I believe, just a bust of a mother. I have had photographs taken of all of these because of this quarrel, or secured them from another source. I have nothing to say about them because I am not an artist, but I am describing to you what happened and why I am not now going to be any censor, or make myself, at this moment.

It seems strange--all of the editorial opinion I have seen on this is defending the committee very strenuously, and so I don't know what's right.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, in January, when you called for a balanced budget, there was a good deal of skepticism. Now, thanks to the business upturn, it looks as if the Treasury will get more revenue than has been expected, and Senator Lyndon Johnson and others, answering Charlie Halleck's crack about budget busters, say that Congress is going to appropriate less money than you have asked for.

In view of these things, Mr. President, do you look for a balanced budget and possibly a surplus in fiscal '60?

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, I am earnestly working for that; and not only the balanced budget that I have said before should be our minimum objective, we should be starting to pay something on our debt. And you can see that the sentiment of Congress is that we should, because they do not make the permanent debt $295 billion, they make it $285 billion and $10 billion temporary, which means you have got to get back by June 30th, back again on the balance. I don't know what's going to happen in that field, but it does show that Congress itself expects us to get in the business of paying off some of these great obligations. And I think we should.

So, my expectation is that we are going to do just that. I will be delighted when Congress can find proper ways to cut any of my particular recommendations, as far as their money is concerned, but I'll say this: merely because they are cut in one place doesn't mean that I haven't got a big concern about any increase anywhere else.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, speaking of that exhibit and Russia, some people have the idea that you are sending Vice President Nixon over there to build him up as a presidential candidate for 1960 over Governor Rockefeller. Would you comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I suppose there is nothing that you can do in the last 18 months of any President's term that touches on any individual where there won't be some interpretation that he is trying to be political about it.

Mr. Nixon just happens to be the Vice President of the United States, which I think makes him a logical choice for someone to go over in high position and open our exposition.

Actually he has asked my brother to go, and I don't think anyone accuses my brother of having political ambitions, and there are two or three others in the party. Then, I believe, there is another planeload of newspaper people and so on.

But in any event, if they can find any political effect out of such a choice, why, I don't know how they find it.

Q. Ruth S. Montgomery, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, why is it that we are able to build submarines that will go under the North Pole and we can build--we can send mice and apes into orbit, but we can't find anybody who can air-condition this room? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, I'll tell you frankly, I think you people can make yourselves one pressure group that I'd have great sympathy with. [Laughter]

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, last night former Secretary of State Acheson in a speech charged your administration's military spending policies are endangering the security of the country, and he called for an additional $7.5 billion in annual defense expenditures, not necessarily deficit, for 4 or 5 years, boosting ground forces and an immediate crash effort to bridge the missile gap.

Now, you may not want to comment on your policy, on that speech, but would you say how much you think defense is going to be an issue in the 1960 political campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think if defense is an issue, it will at least show this: in the last 6 ½ years, it has been able to keep anybody else from attacking us.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Getting back to Vice President Nixon's visit to Moscow, at the same time that your brother's visit was announced, there were some newspaper stories and some interpretations that sending your brother along was an attempt to minimize or knock down the significance, political significance, of the Vice President's trip, and just now you said that the Vice President had asked your brother to come along.

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. Mr. Spivack: I wonder if you can tell us how it all came about.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, because he just asked my brother to go along and they both asked me whether I thought it would be a good idea, and I said sure. Period.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, NBC News: What sort of an impression did you get of Mr. Kozlov and his place in the Russian scheme of things from your visit to New York?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course in most of the personal visits with representatives of the Soviet Government, you find that you have had a rather pleasant personal experience. They are outgiving, they apparently like to have fun, they appreciate a joke, they see humor in a number of things and so, by this standard, and I mean in this, you might say in this habit, I found a man that was very friendly; and frankly I enjoyed the visit I had with him.

It was entirely personal, it was not political. He showed me with a great deal of interest and I think justifiable pride the many items they had to show in their exhibition, and I think it will attract the eye and interest of anybody.

I am looking forward to my visit with him this morning, I think it's at 11:15. I don't know what we are going to talk about--it's a meeting without agenda; but whatever we talk about, I am sure it will be a little bit more serious than that one.

Q. J. F. Ter Horst, Detroit News: Sir, this week the Supreme Court ruled out of bounds the Nation's industrial security clearance program on the grounds that neither Congress nor the executive branch had authorized it. I wonder, sir, if you could tell us whether you feel the continuation of this program is vital to the country, and also whether you would prefer to have Congress initiate the authorization or whether you will do so?

THE PRESIDENT. As quickly as that decision was handed down, our people were directed to begin a study of it. It is one of those things, because they made it on these sole grounds that authority had not been delegated. I don't know what further decisions would be made if we did so delegate it or did attempt it. So I think it will have to be studied and then an answer reached.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, in view of the Senate's rejection of Admiral Strauss as Secretary of Commerce, after this long ordeal, are you having much trouble finding a successor in his Cabinet post?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll just say this: that anyone having gone through what Mr. Strauss has gone through stands as sort of an example to someone else, and someone else may take a long look.

I have not been one of those people that has found any difficulty in getting people to take positions merely because of financial sacrifice. I have found a great readiness, and I have heard, just, you might say casual comment of the kind you are now discussing, but that's all.

Q. Stewart Hensley, United Press International: A little more on Mr. Kozlov. You said you expect your talk with him in a few minutes to be a little more serious than the New York visit. He said when he arrived here yesterday that he hoped his talks with you and with others here would lead to getting rid of some of what he called the abnormalities in the Russian-American situation.

Do you have any suggestion for him as to how this can be done, or is the ball on his side of the court?

THE PRESIDENT. I suppose that in such a situation, each side rather thinks the other has some new or additional responsibility. We have, as our position, that described by Mr. Herter here a few nights ago after he came back from Geneva, when he said there are only two or three basic principles which mark a minimum position in, you might say, our readiness for negotiation; everything else, we try to be flexible in and we certainly will attempt to promote and develop some ideas that we hope will be fruitful.

But, of course, in this one or two basic things which I have so often repeated, why, of course, we cannot recede.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader: Mr. President, sir, I wonder what we are going to do about this arms situation down in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, in view of the fact that we probably have supplied the arms and ammunition that they may be getting ready to shoot at each other, and also in view of the fact that there seems to be ample argument for the claims that there is Communist infiltration in some of these armed forces.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that if America is going to be true to itself and to its pledges, that it must depend primarily upon the Organization of American States to take cognizance of these difficulties; and if they can find any reason for action, that they are the ones that must recommend it.

The United States, as I have so often said, tries to maintain friendly relations with friendly governments. There is no sense of closing our eyes to some of the situations of the current time in Central America and in the Caribbean. But we do look primarily to the Organization of American States to take the initiative, otherwise we again would be called the dollar imperialists or something else of that kind.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko a few days ago denied that Russia had any ambitions to annex West Berlin. He professed to see some evidence at Geneva that both sides were getting closer together, and he again reiterated the need for a summit conference.

What do you think of these views?

THE PRESIDENT. Well I think he said this before, and until there is something that you can identify as either progress through deeds or a readiness of presenting an agenda which, in itself, would be negotiated by, let's say, heads of state, I don't quite see the reason for his conclusion.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: You referred, sir, to the growing interest in the nominations for candidates for President in 1960--

THE PRESIDENT. No, someone else referred to it. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Wilson: I wondered if you considered yourself neutral in this discussion?

THE PRESIDENT. Well I think it would be too much to think that a man's sentiments and ideas were completely neutral. I have said time and again that the Republican Party, in my opinion, has brought forward a group of able, capable men of vigorous years and that any could be selected with honor to himself and to the party.

But, I certainly shall never, so far as I am able, indicate publicly to anyone, or privately, to the details of the procedures well, that will bring about some nominee, because I don't think it is correct or right.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Do you agree with Vice President Nixon that the main issue in the 1960 campaign will be inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't know he had said that, but certainly it will be one of them. Of course, I tried to bring it to the Congress in 1958, and I said we simply couldn't go on with irresponsible spending. I gave instance after instance of bills that I thought would have required just unconscionable spending. The decision at the polls was not one, at that moment, to lead me to believe that people were too much concerned by inflation. But I think they have changed their minds.

Q. Mr. Brandt: There has been a written report, a newspaper report, that there is a secret or confidential Government document that prices will increase 3 percent during 1960.

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Mr. Brandt: There has been a confidential Government report that the price index will rise 3 percent in 1960. Have you seen such a report?


Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: In this connection, sir, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has cut down the size of the military assistance which you have requested rather considerably and at the same time increased the amount of economic assistance to other countries, saying that $500 million will be sufficient for the critical areas of Formosa, Korea, and Viet-Nam and the rest could more or less take care of itself.

Would you say what you believe, what you think of this?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can say only this: I agree with the idea implicit in their recommendation, which is that the struggle has become far broader than it was in the early days when we thought of the matter merely as the use of force or the threat of force to throw us off balance. They have got into the economic and the cultural and propaganda fields I think very much more strongly than was formerly the case. But with respect to this matter of military assistance, I sent the question very recently again to the Chiefs of Staff and I said, "I want to know whether you, with your combined military opinion, believe that this sum that I put in, $1.6 billion, is sufficient."

I can't remember the exact words in which the reply came back, but the $1.6 billion in their opinion was not only the minimum that we dared to use if we were really concerned about the security of our country, but they implied that since that sum would necessarily have to be augmented by what is left of the once big pipeline, that we would have to do more in 1961.

Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and sixty-second news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:01 to 10:29 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 1, 1959. In attendance: 177.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235099

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