Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 07, 1957

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning; please sit down. I have no announcements.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Your statement on the Senate version of the civil rights bill has been widely interpreted as meaning that you would veto the bill in that form. Can you tell us whether the Senate form is unacceptable to you, and whether you would accept the proposed compromise which would make the jury trial amendment apply only in voting rights cases?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I have customarily--I think rather wisely--made it a practice of not predicting what I would do about a particular bill until it is laid in front of me; because whatever you say about such things can have an effect, harmful or otherwise, on legislation as it is processing through the Legislature.

I'll only say, as far as my attitude toward the present law is concerned, that my statement of August 2d reflects it very, very accurately. Now, in what form this can come out that would remove some of those objections, we'll just have to wait and see.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, there have been reports, sir, that Mr. Neil McElroy of Proctor & Gamble will replace Secretary of Defense Wilson. Is there anything you can tell us about this?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't mind talking to you about it for the simple reason that these things, which we normally do in some confidence--as these things become public property, so I think I can talk to you about it without violating any confidence anywhere.

Mr. Wilson has let me know, for a long time, that he wanted to quit before the next budget year became a part of our daily work; and I have been considering, very earnestly, Mr. McElroy, whom I deem to be one of the most capable men and the highest type of people that I know in the country.

Now, as you know, there is a very long and exhaustive set of investigations and they are intricate; most of them are confidential; they go forward in every field before a name is sent to the Senate. Now, those are going forward and I cannot predict completely the outcome yet. I will say this: that as quickly as any decision is made in this regard, Mr. Hagerty will let all of you know.

Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Mr. President, James Hoffa, Vice President of the Teamsters' Union, has proposed that a giant nationwide union of land, sea, and air workers be set up; and Senator McClellan has called this a threat of supergovernment. Could you give us your thoughts on this subject?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as of this moment I know about it only what I have read in the papers, and I have had no study on it. And I think that rather than making any impulsive statement, I will defer that question until after I have talked at greater length with Mr. Mitchell and others who are concerned.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, as things stand, you have got very little indeed from the present session of Congress. The situation could conceivably improve, but the prospects are not too bright.

Are you inclined to any self-criticism for this state of affairs? Could the Administration have pushed more consistently, say, its budget, the school bill, its civil rights, and as a corollary to that, do you find that your leadership is impaired by the fact of your being a so-called "lame duck" President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will answer your last thing first. I have not noticed any effect of the so-called "lame duck." Maybe later in the term that might be noticeable. To me, it is not now.

Now, I would be the first to say that with the difficulty that many of the Administration proposals have run into, somewhere along the line I have not done as well as might have been done; but, as I say, most of this work--and I have told you before-goes along in confidence, behind the scenes, and you exert your influence in proper ways.

I, as you know, never employ threats. I never try to hold up clubs of any kind. I just say, "This is what I believe to be best for the United States," and I try to convince people by the logic of my position. If that is wrong politically, well then I suppose you will just have to say I am wrong; but that is my method, and that is what I try to do.

Now, just one more word: you say "my program." I want to point out to you again that while my name is attached to it because I am President, these programs are not made up just out of my single fertile brain. They are not only completely examined by the whole Administration, Cabinet, and so on, but the month of December is given over--a good part of it, before each new congressional session--to meeting with our own leaders and, in the appropriate cases, with the leaders of both sides in order that the whole program can have as great a possible base of understanding and support before it starts.

Now, that is the way it is done; and as I say, I do my best to convince people that this is for the good of the United States.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, in that August statement, August 2d, sir, you said that seldom in your legislative history have so many extraneous issues been brought into a debate, in other words, the civil rights debates. Could you list five or six of those extraneous issues, sir, and tell us how they confuse the debate on this issue?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not going to try to do it, and for this reason: I do not get into the details of the debates in the Senate or in the House.

I merely want to point out, if you will read all of the statements made about the wrecking of American juridical processes, and how all the proposals were completely revolutionary, unfair and so on, that it was all extraneous, as I see it.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, with whom you don't always agree, has said that he doesn't like this jury trial amendment either, but he said he had rather have this civil rights bill than none at all. Would you agree with him on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, this civil rights bill: there is no civil rights bill in from of me yet, as I told you before. Until we see that, then I will talk to you about it.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, there is a special Senate election August 27 between Governor Kohler and Mr. Proxmire of Wisconsin. Are you going to take any part in the campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. When is it?

Q. Mr. Burd: The 27th of August.

THE PRESIDENT. The actual fact is that no one has even mentioned my possible participation. I have been fairly busy and no one has said a word to me about it yet.

But I will say this right now: I'd like to go on record as being one of Mr. Kohler's great admirers, entirely aside from the fact that he is a good Republican, and I would like to see him elected. If that is on his side, that is the way I would like to have it interpreted.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Scripps-Howard: Sir, Senator Morse has criticized you for accepting certain gifts. I wonder, sir, if you could tell us what philosophy guides you when people offer you gifts.

THE PRESIDENT. Most of the gifts and I think there have been one or two minor exceptions, come to me from large organizations, voluntary organizations, and I make this stipulation: anything that is given me is right out on the record, and it is given for a particular purpose. People have put bushes--what do you call it, shrubbery, trees, things like that--on the farm on the theory that they want to build that up as a good-looking place some day to be sort of a public property.

Now, as far as I am concerned, I need no gifts and I never accept gifts that I believe have any personal motive whatsoever behind them, I mean any selfish motive of any kind. If they are not those--I never have accepted one from a corporation or business firm. I merely try to keep my relations with people on what I think is a friendly, decent basis.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, this is a related question. Some pretty harsh things have been said about you recently, Mr. President. One Congressman, Bailey of West Virginia, used against you what Mr. Theodore Roosevelt used to call "a short and ugly word." How does a man in your position feel about that? Do you have any philosophy?

THE PRESIDENT. I'll tell you what to do, Mr. Folliard: I will refer you to the second term of President Washington, and you look to see what the papers said about him, and when I compare the weak, inconsequential things they say about me compared to what they say about the man who I think is the greatest human the English-speaking race has produced, then I can be quite philosophical about it.

Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Going back, sir, a second, to Defense Secretary Wilson: in some House testimony that was released, he criticized the Hoover recommendations to change the budget to an approved spending one. He said in the Defense Department this would mean a great deal of waste, and possible risk to the security of our country. He later made an explanation in which he said he didn't disagree with you, but did not back the bill.

I wonder, sir, if you can tell us whether you are satisfied with his explanation.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, after all, Mr. Wilson is an experienced businessman and he has his own opinion of what a particular method of accounting will do in governmental activities, particularly in the Defense Department; and certainly I would be the last to say that he could not express those.

On the other hand, I told him I was for this bill and he has not opposed it. He has simply tried to show what he believed would be the result of its application in the Defense Department.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Sir, you have been, and others have been very active in trying to wipe out discriminations which are based on race, creed, religion, and color. Why have you not been as active in trying to wipe out discrimination based on sex, namely, the equal rights amendment?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, its hard for a mere man to believe that woman doesn't have equal rights. [Laughter]

But actually, this is the first time that this has come to my specific attention now since, oh, I think a year or so. And, really, I just can't answer your question this morning. I do know that in certain States, and probably in all, there are some things where women do not yet have what they believe to be at least their full rights.

And I am in favor of it. I just probably haven't been active enough in doing something about it.

Q. Mrs. Craig: Will you?

THE PRESIDENT. I will take a look at it.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: I have a double-barreled question, Mr. President. What progress have you made in trying to find a successor for Mr. Hollister at the ICA, and secondly, what progress do the leaders report to you about the mutual security bill in Congress and some of the things you want the House to give you?

THE PRESIDENT. The conference is going on this morning. Possibly I had better answer your first question first. We have an individual in mind, and Mr. Hollister has promised to stay at my convenience. I have not felt under any great pressure to get this appointment made, and there is a man under consideration now and we are hopeful that he can accept it.

Now, with respect to the other part of your question, the conference is meeting this morning. All of the leaders, I think, on both sides know how deeply I believe that the welfare of the United States is tied up in this mutual security program.

I am the last to claim that every cent that ever was spent in this program has been wisely done. There is bound to be some waste, some money that has been spent without result. It is a long-term program. I think it is showing effects all over the world.

We are trying, through our ability to lend money--both private and, where necessary, public capital--to help other nations understand what freedom means to men: that they can prosper under it, and they can keep their self-respect, they can keep their individual liberties and rights as they do prosper, that they do not have to bow the neck to dictatorial rule.

If they are not helped, I see no prospect that they can ever learn that lesson. And I can see that there is no lesson so important for all of the free world to know than that men can by their own rights, by their own efforts, if they are ready to help each other to that extent, advance, realize their full capabilities and potentialities in this world both, let's say, materially and above all spiritually; or, you might say, the inner man can reach the same degree of satisfaction as the physical man.

Now, this thing, to my mind, has gotten to the point that it is just the welfare of the United States, and I am not quarreling about the last dollar; but I am saying we should show an attitude of generosity, of readiness to cooperate, getting ourselves in a position over specifically a number of years that we can cooperate.

I believe that money really represents as high a degree of return or, you might say, profitable investment for the United States as any dollar you can find in the whole budget.

Q. Herman A. Lowe, Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader: Mr. President, the paper has just completed a poll of the Congress on the handing of Specialist Girard over to the Japanese, Mr. President, and in the Senate they said by approximately two to one that they disagreed with the Administration's handling; and in the House by almost four to one, that they disagreed with the Administration's turning him over to Japan.

I wonder if you still believe, sir, as you said earlier, that the Congress is coming around to your way of thinking on this?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about this survey of which you speak. The Congressmen and Senators who have spoken to me have, for a long time, been very conservative in their speech. They have not been upset or too emotional, and they, in possession of all the facts, recognize that the thing was handled about as well as it could be.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, sir, we seem to have a complete stalemate in Congress between Benson, Secretary of Agriculture, and the congressional committees over the question of a new farm program.

Now, Mr. Benson made a proposal in May, and there has been no action on it, and no real basic commodity legislation out of this session. I wonder if you have any new plans for next year that we can start talking about now.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't want to start talking about them this morning.

Mr. Benson has been away now for several weeks out on another swing around the country, about a month, trying to get new ideas, new thoughts. And as you know, he did put before the Congress a very definite conviction that our present laws were not working well and we had to do something more radical than we have been doing in the past.

Q. Martin S. Hayden, Detroit News: Mr. President, another question as to your broad philosophy of the Presidency: you said a while ago that you did not use force or threats in trying to get the Congressmen to follow your program. I would like to ask you, sir, why not?

What I have in mind is that Republican Congressmen want you to appoint their friends postmasters, they want you to come and have your picture taken with them and campaign with them when they are running. Why not tell them to go peddle their papers when they don't ever vote for your programs?

THE PRESIDENT. Well--[laughter]--I believe I said here once before this body that there are obviously degrees of enthusiasm that I have for the re-election or election of certain people, even though they bear the name Republican. So, I have, I think, my own ways of expressing that degree of enthusiasm.

Q. Lillian Levy, National Jewish Post: How important, sir, do you consider the passage of a new immigration bill this session of Congress, and what provisions would you like to see included that would give refuge to escapees from either communism or other forms of persecution?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would refer you to my messages of last January when I urged the Congress to act on the immigration laws, particularly reforming them to make them more representative of the humanitarian instincts of the United States, and in keeping with our traditions as a haven for political refugees. I believe we should do it. I believe certain things are just, urgent, and critical. We have lots of Hungarian refugees here on a parole basis. I think that should be corrected.

I believe this quota system should be corrected, at least to the extent of allowing us to use unused quotas for helping out the kind of persons you describe.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Sir, you have a report from Secretary Dulles within the last few days on the state of the disarmament talks in London. Could you now give us your evaluation of where those talks are and what the prospects for progress are?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it is difficult indeed to give you any estimate or evaluation of progress for the simple reason that it would be pure conjecture.

We are not dealing with people concerning whom we have the same opportunities of getting the state of their public opinion as they have of us. They read our newspapers, our magazines, every other kind of document and statement coming out of the United States, and they can get some inkling of how we feel, what we want to do. We haven't that opportunity, and we listen merely to prepared speeches which have some purpose other than mere enlightenment.

Now, the great proposal that is before the conference now, before the whole group, which I am viewing with the utmost hope, let's put it that way, is this great problem of, great opportunity for inspection, both aerial and supplemented by ground.

At Geneva, you will recall, I offered to exchange the aerial inspection of the United States for that of Russia. This proposal has been enlarged, because our own allies, seeing that the one great truth inspires this kind of thing, is valid--

That truth is this: if you can relieve the world of the great fear of surprise, devastating attack, then disarmament, in my opinion, will follow step by step almost automatically. Now, what we are trying to do, then, is to relieve this great fear of surprise attack.

So now, our allies and ourselves propose the inspection of all North America, north of the Rio Grande, and all of Europe in exchange for the same inspectional privileges of Russia and her satellites.

Now, if this could be entertained even for a moment, and we could make any progress, I would consider it the greatest ray of hope that has arrived on this dark scene since I have been in the White House.

But, failing that, we have proposed also a more limited area which would not expose any of the central secrets probably of either side, but which would give us an opportunity to test the methods, procedures, and to see whether they will work, to see whether we can develop enough confidence as between the opposing parties to go a little further.

Now, remember this: we can talk all we want about specific measures of disarmament. Nothing is going to work unless it is preceded by some, or accompanied by some little growth in mutual confidence. These things that I am talking about are to achieve not only material results but some growth in mutual confidence, and that is the thing that must lie behind it all.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Another double-barreled question: first, how is Mrs. Eisenhower; and second, does her condition or recuperation have any effect on your plans for going to Newport?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Well, thank you very much for inquiring about Mrs. Eisenhower.

I just phoned the hospital a few minutes ago, and her medical condition is all that the doctors could possibly hope. They are extremely pleased with the postoperative condition that she has exhibited. This does not mean, I think, that her disposition is necessarily so good about it; but medically, apparently she is doing splendidly.

Now, with respect to the possibility of it interfering with the vacation plans, of course she would not be moved until the doctors say she can; but if we assume that Congress is going to be here about another two weeks, I believe the doctors' present opinion is that she could go up there and complete her recuperation successfully, and probably very pleasantly.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, in connection with your remarks on the inspection system, Japan has displayed some concern that its claims to the southern Kuriles might be damaged by an inspection system recognizing that as Soviet territory. Could you say to what extent consultations must be made with these interested, vitally interested countries?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the interests of nobody like Japan, with which government we have had the most friendly relations, would possibly be ignored. I hadn't heard of this one particular protest, but I do assure you that Japan's views would be carefully considered and we would never do anything that we thought violated her national sovereign rights.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, two specific points on that same subject: if one of the immediate purposes of the disarmament scheme is to avoid surprise attack, why do we not cover up all the bases from which such an attack could take place; and, second, is there anything new about the idea you discussed here some time ago about Marshal Zhukov having conversations with the Secretary of Defense?

THE PRESIDENT. Again, let's take the second question first. This seems to be a day for the double-barreled shotguns, doesn't it?

I didn't discuss Marshal Zhukov's conversations. Someone asked me specifically whether I would think it would hurt anything, or some good might come out of a conversation between our Secretary of Defense and their Minister of Defense. I said it might even help; I would have no objection. I have never thought about it further. It was purely a hypothetical question and certainly my answer was likewise hypothetical and given without any further study.

Now, what was the first part of your question?

Q. Mr. Reston: The first part had to do with the question of surprise attack and why some bases were in and not others--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes, the bases.

You will realize, when you make a proposal in which there is someone sitting across the table who is presumably seeing the other side of the coin and not your side, you have to remember that on our side are dozens and dozens of countries involved.

I think that we have done a very fine job to get the NATO countries and ourselves all in one packet, agreeing to one thing, and get that done.

Now, on the other side, you will recall there are many bases out in the Red China area. Those were not brought in as, merely at this point, being complicating, and not being critical to the first steps that we are talking about, which is the creating of confidence and all that sort of thing.

You know, one of the early reasons I explained at the time in the International Atomic Energy thing: if we can get people used to working together over a peaceful thing where they have got to solve problems of administration and direction and all sorts of technical problems of an engineering nature, maybe we can build up some kind of confidence, instead of having people necessarily always standing, literally, with daggers in their eyes, watching the other fellow.

Q. S. Douglass Cater, Jr., The Reporter Magazine: Mr. President, a number of competent legal authorities since the passage of this jury trial amendment have said that this specific amendment is workable, that there are still teeth, that under civil contempt procedures that you could go quite a distance with a district judge and the Attorney General, or the Justice Department.

So far as I know, no one has addressed any rebuttal to the merits of this particular amendment as passed. Do you know what it is that specifically disturbs you about the final amendment?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think again I must refer you to my statement of August 2d, written out very carefully. But there are implications in section 4 as now written that, in my opinion, would be most damaging to the entire Federal judiciary.

Q. Warren W. Unna, Washington Post: Mr. President, in your discussion of the clean bomb you mentioned a 95 percent clean bomb, and hopes for developing an absolutely clean bomb. I wonder if you could tell us, sir, when you think the military will begin stockpiling the relatively clean bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that as quickly as they are produced in quantity they begin to stockpile those. But that does not mean that you can immediately go back over all of your old ones and get them revised. That takes time. But, they are stocking the cleanest bomb they have at the moment; they have stocked up on it.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, would you tell us whether correspondence between you and Marshal Zhnkov has lapsed?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, except for one personal exchange as a polite amenity following the Geneva Conference, I have had no direct communication with Marshal Zhukov--I think it was April 1946. All of the opinions and statements I have ever made to you people about the Marshal were based upon, I have carefully explained, my six months' connection with him in 1945. So, since then, I have had no direct communication with him.

Q. Mr. Sentner: Could you give us any idea of the substance of those past communications, particularly relevant to the current disarmament discussions?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I certainly would not want to guess at them now. I would have to go back, because they had nothing to do with--this is 1946, eleven years ago, and I wouldn't want-they had nothing to do with disarmament, except that he did have this feeling that America and Russia were the two peoples who should try to devise plans and more or less induce others to conform.

But that was, I say, a long time ago, and I know nothing about his convictions at the moment.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and eighteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building on Wednesday morning, August 7, 1957, from 10:30 to 11:00 o'clock. In attendance: 202.

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/233438

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