Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

March 10, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. I have only one announcement. It is very inconsequential. Sometime during the coming week I shall probably go on the air to discuss the general contents of the tax program. As you know, the administration is committed--the administration of the Republican Party--to a program, the pieces of which have gone down to the Congress in the form of legislative proposals and, all together, make up a plan of action that we believe to be good for the United States.

Of that, taxes is part. The purpose of taxes is, of course, to get the money to pay the bills for the things you have to do, or believe desirable for Government to do, for its people--and to do it in such a way as to cause not only the least damage to the economy but to the great mass of people that make up the United States, and cause the burdens to be distributed in such a way that we will not impede the very progress you are trying to advance.

So it will be discussed. The only point of my making the statement now is that the tax program will be discussed in its relationship to what we are trying to do in a broad program.

That is the only statement I have to make. We will go right to questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, do you feel that there is a need for any additional Republican reply on a nationwide basis to Adlai Stevenson other than Vice President Nixon's speech Saturday?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't sense any particular need myself. I think all you people know how greatly I admire the Vice President, how much I trust him. I have confidence that he will place the facts as he understands them, and as all of us in a position of responsibility in the Republican Party understand them, before the people; and that will be that.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, in connection with the selection of Vice President Nixon to reply, does that mean that Senator McCarthy will not be speaking for the party in the '54 campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. You pose a question that I don't suppose anyone in the world can answer. I suppose when he speaks, he will say he is representing what he chooses. The Republican Chairman has made it quite clear in this instance who has been selected to speak for the party, and that is that.

Q. Martin Agronsky, American Broadcasting Company: It has been reported, sir, that you personally chose the Vice President to respond to Mr. Stevenson, and communicated your wishes to Mr. Hall; is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. There was a meeting at which I participated, and I don't remember that I was the one that suggested it. I most certainly concurred heartily. I can't remember, frankly, who made the first suggestion that Mr. Nixon should do it, but I certainly concurred heartily.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, last Saturday night the proposition was put forward that the Republican Party is half Eisenhower and half McCarthy. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. At the risk of appearing egotistical--and you can so interpret it if you choose--I say nonsense.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, this is related to Merriman Smith's question. Do you think that the big networks have been fair in giving time to the Republican National Committee to answer Governor Stevenson rather than to Senator McCarthy? McCarthy feels that the networks have been unfair.

THE PRESIDENT. I am not going to make the decisions that, of course, the Federal Communications Commission makes, and that the networks make on their own responsibility. Personally, I think that the networks have certainly discharged their responsibility for being impartial when they give to the Republican National Committee the right to answer as they see fit.

You know, suppose any one of you would make a speech, whatever party you belong to, and mention 20 names on the other side; now, does the network have to give 20 different people the right to get up and answer, or is it a party thing?

There must be some limit to this sort of thing. I believe as long as they give to responsible, acknowledged heads of the organization part of the party--the Chairman--the right to determine this, why, that is justice.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Newspapers: Mr. President, do you not regard the Stevenson speech as a part of the Democratic campaign for Congress, and therefore it should be answered by the party--by the Republican Party?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, indeed I do. Of course I do.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, will you tell us whether you find yourself in substantial sympathy with it, or what your reaction is to it if that is not correct, to Senator Flanders' talk yesterday in the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I was perfectly certain I wasn't going to get through this morning without getting that question. [Laughter] And I thought about it on the way over. [Laughter]

Now, certainly, I can agree with this part: the Republican Party is now the party of responsibility, so charged by the people of the United States in the elective process. And when Senator Flanders points up the danger of us engaging in internecine warfare, and magnifying certain items of procedure and right and personal aggrandizement, and all such questions, to the point that we are endangering the program of action that all the leadership is agreed upon and we are trying to put across, then he is doing a service when he calls the great danger to that kind of thing that is happening.

Now, I am not going to be in a position of endorsing every word he said or how he said it. I don't know; all I saw of it was a little bit of thing on television last evening, and so I know you wouldn't ask me just to say I underwrite it. But I do say that calling attention to the grave error in splitting apart when you are in positions of responsibility and going in three or four different directions at once is just serious, that's all.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, I wonder if you would put that much on the record, the answer to that question.

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you what you can do. I believe they keep a transcript; after the meeting is over, Mr. Hagerty can see how many errors of grammar, of which I was guilty, when I stated it--[laughter]-and if he thinks it is worthwhile stating it, or if it is all right, you can put it in.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Can we include that "nonsense" part in that quotation?

THE PRESIDENT. I forget. I said about--half and half, you said? That was the question?

Q. Mr. Wilson: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. As far as I am concerned, you can use my influence with Mr. Hagerty. [Laughter]

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: I would like to ask about the Manion resignation. We have never had any statement from the White House on it. Dr. Manion said he was asked to resign by Sherman Adams, presumably because of his stand on the Bricker amendment and the TVA. My question is, can you tell us who was responsible for the Manion resignation and why it was asked for?

THE PRESIDENT. Actually, Dean Manion, a very estimable man, was entitled to his own opinions on those certain items, and they were never questioned. I knew where he stood on certain things when I asked him to do a certain job. But he was busy and couldn't do the job that he was asked for. The job requires a continuous devotion to that kind of work. As a matter of fact, we are hunting for the man now that can give full time to that kind of work.

Q. Mr. Burd: It was a question of time, was it not?

THE PRESIDENT. So far as I was concerned, yes.

Q. M. Stewart Hensley, United Press: Senator Anderson yesterday formally called up his amendment to tack Alaska onto the Hawaiian statehood bill. Do you have any comment on that at all?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, our leadership has promised to do its best to keep them separate, and I personally favor that plan.

You people know where I have stood on this business of statehood for the two Territories. You know that I take a platform seriously. I am trying very much to carry out the basic promises of the Republican platform. I note that some of them are paralleled in the Democratic platform. So I don't see any reason why each of these subjects can't be handled on its own merits.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, this is on a less controversial subject. Have you ever had your coffee report?

THE PRESIDENT. Ever had what?

Q. Mr. Spivack: The report on the coffee investigation that you announced.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. Will you look that up? I don't know whether that is completed, the major one. I gave you the results of the preliminary, which they said, you will remember, justified a full-scale investigation. The reports on that full-scale, I have not had.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, there seems to be increasing support in Congress and among the farm organizations that we sell part of our surplus butter to Russia for 40 or 50 cents a pound, provided part of that surplus is made available in this country at a reduced price. Could you tell us if you would favor such an arrangement?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't heard just exactly that one. I, of course, believe that where the United States interests indicate the need for a barter arrangement to get something that we need and can preserve in place of butter which we apparently don't need, because it is in storage, and which is perishable, that would be a good deal, in my estimation.

Q. Mr. Scheibel: Would you extend that to include all the other farm surpluses we have, swapping for materials?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly, the great surpluses. I really believe we should look for ways to trade them advantageously to. the United States. That is what barter is, that is what trade is, that is what made this country, in many ways; and I don't think we should fear now our ability to trade to the best interests of the United States. But, on the other hand, I realize there are a thousand different considerations that apply to this delicate thing of disposing of these surpluses, both at home and abroad.

Q. Paul Shinkman, Radio Stations WASH-FM and WDON: Prime Minister Churchill said last week that he still felt that a four-power conference at the top level would be helpful in the foreseeable future. Do you have any comments on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I have disagreed with Winston--with the Prime Minister in the past. Here, in this one, I will put it this way: I fail to see at this moment what good could come out of it. Of course, there are always the possibilities of great difficulty coming.

Now, I have approved numbers of conferences for our Secretary of State participating with other foreign ministers. Incidentally, I must say, I think he has handled himself like a master. I know of no one who could have done better than Secretary Dulles in representing the best interests of the United States in the most confusing and trying of circumstances. I think we are fortunate to have such a man.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS Television: Mr. President, the Colonel Schwable case has raised an important argument, the two sides of which you are probably quite familiar with, with your distinguished military background. On the one side, the military naturally fears from the standpoint of precedence to have its men admit to false confessions, while from the humanitarian standpoint, it is easy to understand and sympathize with a man who makes a false confession under duress or torture. Not referring specifically to the Colonel Schwable case, sir, can you give us your general views on this entire military situation, or problem?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when you begin to talk about military problems, you must certainly relate that problem to the times in which you live.

If you will go back to our Revolutionary War times, you will find there were codes that existed among professional fighting men that were almost independent of international law. If you captured a general, he was your guest; you took him in; you were very nice to him. He might be the guest of the conquering general for 2 or 3 days.

There was a sort of understanding that controlled most of our contacts with the enemy, and out of that were translated really the rules of land warfare to which many nations adhered.

Today, with hatreds and prejudices sharpened, all brought about by very deep, underlying differences in ideologies, the very basis by which we live--we think we are a religious civilization; our opponents in the world believe in a materialistic dialectic and nothing else, that only materialism has anything to do with man's happiness, man's progress, and man's concern--these bring about very, very great changes.

Now, you must remember that all the early part of my life I was studying the campaigns, the conduct of past wars and past heroes of mine-a Lee and a Washington, people like that.

Today you have got to be a rather understanding individual if you presume to criticize severely someone who has given way to the things that these men have had to endure. Indeed, I read only recently that one psychiatrist said that there is no man on earth that under the continued process of brainwashing can fail to make the confession desired of him.

There is, of course, like all things, a rule of reason that applies. You can't take back such people and ask young America to follow them enthusiastically. On the other hand, we mustn't condemn them too severely. It is a very, very hard problem. And I must say this: in some 13 years-or something like that, maybe they are not continuous, they seem almost that--that you have to sit in judgment on other humans' failures, legal and other failures, you have to sit in and take final action on them, it is a very trying thing. First of all, you must think of punishment as being instituted for the protection of society, the society that you know. On the other hand, you have justice to the individual. Frequently your opinions and convictions differ. It is a very, very difficult problem, and sometimes that is one of the burdens you wish could be removed from your shoulders. I carried it a long time, and I have no really definite answer for it. Sorry.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, there has been a great deal of talk among some Republicans lately that the word has gone out from you that you want much more emphasis on the positive aspects of the administration's program. Possibly your answer on the Senator Flanders' speech gives some of the reasons, but I wonder if you could tell us if that is so, if you feel there should be more of that emphasis.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Arrowsmith, I thought I had emphasized that right here in one of these meetings. I don't believe that things negative promote the happiness of people. I believe that you must go forward in the spiritual and intellectual, cultural, economic development of this country if we are going to make it a place where 161 million people can live in happiness--and the increasing population can live in happiness.

Now, all the things that distract from that effort, they are sometimes necessary. All of these things, these corrective, and therefore punitive measures, are sometimes necessary; but what I complain about is their overemphasis. The overemphasis of those things to the exclusion of a positive program of human welfare, human advancement, that is what I complain about. I think it is very wrong. And I have certainly appealed to everybody that I can reach with my voice to give their attention--not necessarily to agree with every single item in this program, but for goodness' sake, to take out what is good and to stand behind it, and to give less attention to subjects that are unworthy, really, of occupying our time from morning until night.

Q. Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: Mr. President, are you going on both television and radio with your tax talk? And do you have any idea what night it will be?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I haven't even asked for time yet. Actually, what I mean is this. I want most informally and as simply as I can to explain the philosophy underlying a tax program, what it means. I assume, because I believe this is the practice, I assume that it will be on both television and radio because, I assure you, it will be nonpartisan as far as I am concerned.

Q. Paul R. Leach, Chicago Daily News: Will that be next week, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so.

Q. Mr. Leach: Not this week?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, what are we on now? We are on Wednesday. Next week.

Q. Sarah L. McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, we all know how you feel about the Bricker amendment and about keeping the powers of the executive branch independent of the others. But if some examples of flagrant cases, where the international executive agreements negotiated by agencies of the executive branch of the Government were presented to you, where these agreements, made internationally, violate internal law, would you be inclined to reconsider those agreements and to disapprove them?

THE PRESIDENT. Wall, it is a very intricate hypothetical question. I haven't seen these agreements, and I don't know exactly what I would do. But I will say this: if I have gotten so rigid in any conviction of theory that I can't take any case that is put in front of me and try to decide it with such enlightenment as God has given me according to what I believe to be the best interests of the country, then certainly they ought to move rapidly to impeach me. I certainly would try to do so.

Q. James J. Patterson, New York News: Mr. President, Senator Stennis said yesterday that we were in danger of becoming involved in World War III in Indochina because of the Air Force technicians there. What will we do if one of those men is captured or killed?

THE PRESIDENT. I will say this: there is going to. be no involvement of America in war unless it is a result of the constitutional process that is placed upon Congress to declare it. Now, let us have that clear; and that is the answer.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, Chancellor Adenauer suggested the other day that we ought to return the seized German assets in this country. I wonder if any decision has been reached on that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there has been no decision. It has been a subject of study since, I think, almost the first day I came into this office. It is a very difficult one. I personally believe that this matter should be settled, cleared up, once and for all, and we get out of the business. That is what I am trying to do.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, do you plan to send up a supplementary message on labor relations to Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. There is probably never a week goes by that there are not serious talks on some phase of labor relations, someone coming in to make a recommendation. There is no plan at this moment to send a specific message up; however, that doesn't preclude the fact that I could.

Q. A. Robert Smith, Portland Oregonian: Mr. President, about 3 weeks ago, you issued a formal statement at your news conference endorsing a dam in Oregon, Cougar Dam, and you said that this exemplified what you have meant all along as a partnership proposal--that the Federal Government would build the dam and the local utility would install the generators.

At about the same time, a group of Arkansas Senators and Representatives called on Mr. Dodge at the Budget Bureau, in trying to urge him to have the Federal Government proceed to build several additional dams on the White River. They reported that he said that hereafter the partnership policy was the only thing that would be followed in the construction of dams in the West, and in the South, too; that is, only in cases where local utilities would install the generators. Now, can you clarify that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it has never been stated in that way. If you will go back over every statement that I have ever made about this question of public power, you will find, on the erection of these multiple-purpose dams, that wherever it is feasible, I want local participation; because I believe you will get greater economy and greater care in the operation and the building and the use to which the dam is put.

Now, it is also acknowledged in every single statement, there can be cases where it is so exclusively to the Federal advantage to do this thing, of course, they will do it then. The rule of looking for the partnership is exactly what I hope to follow, but I don't preclude the possibility that these others come up. Of course, they do.

Q. Garnett D. Horner, Washington Star: Mr. President, do you have any travel plans for this weekend that you can tell us about?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I hope to go up to Camp David, if I can. Now, there is still doubt in the way, but I want to go up and take a look. As a matter of fact, from there, I think I might say, I would hope to roam around at least as far as a little local golf course that some of you may know about.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Newspapers: Mr. President, could I have a second question? Would you comment on Stevenson's criticism of your "new look" defense program?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I comment on nothing that other individuals say. I would merely comment, here, this: I have spent a long time in the military services. In all the really important positions I ever had, I dealt with the three services, not with the single one--I mean, in important positions in higher rank.

I am concerned about the security of this country, I hope, as seriously as any single individual alive. If I have too much confidence in my own judgment here, well, that is for someone else to say, and I am therefore subject to criticism. But I will say this: I am doing nothing in the security departments that I don't believe is for the welfare and the security and the continued safety of the United States of America, and I am not going to demagogue about it.

Q. William V. Shannon, New York Post: Mr. President, along that line, there has been criticism that, unlike Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, that this administration has engaged in insufficient prior consultation with the leaders of the opposition party in forming defense and foreign policy. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. You say they are complaining because we are guilty of insufficient?

Q. Mr. Shannon: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. You haven't heard the statements made to me that they were never consulted in the last 20 years, according to my reports, except after a decision has been made--the fait accompli, and here it is. That has been the complaint made to me. We have been going to extraordinary lengths, and they look at me sometimes rather askance because of my insistence on it.

I would say the shoe is on the other foot so far as my reports go.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Apropos of the "new look" question, Mr. President, is there any change in the procedures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in considering defense policies? Any change since you came?

THE PRESIDENT. None at all. Look. Let us go back to that question again for a minute. We recognize one thing, and one thing has caused the new look, so called. As you know, I despise all slogans; I don't think they are truly descriptive of anything. But we were in an emergency pointing up toward some fancied date. They selected July 1, 1952, '54, or whatever--you pick the date--but we were working toward that.

What I ask all of us to remember is this: the free world is picking up a burden that it may have to carry on indefinitely. We can't look forward to a solution to the problems we have inherited as of next year or even in the next decade, possibly not in our lifetime. We have got to be able to carry this forward and in such a way that it will not wreck the very concepts on which all free government is constituted.

Now, all that we are trying to do is to get these things so put together in view of their extraordinary, almost extravagant, cost and expense, to get all these things put together so that the free world can pick up this burden which is bound to remain a burden, and do it in a way that we don't have to abandon it at a critical point along the road, or we don't have to get hysterical with fear because we are afraid we are not doing too much.

Remember, there are considerations on both sides of such problems or they wouldn't be problems. But we must, I insist, be ready for the long term, and that's a fact.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's thirtieth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:33 to 11:01 o'clock on Wednesday morning, March 10, 1954. In attendance: 181.

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/233572

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