Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 04, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, with respect to our offer food in the flooded areas of Europe, Yugoslavia has not been able to make reply. They don't even know the extent of the damage. Floods are still raging there.

Germany and Austria have replied they are very greatly interested, and we will undoubtedly hear further from them.

There has been no reply from other countries, but I do want to say that as any information comes in, Mr. Hagerty will keep you informed with respect to it 1 .

Wasn't there one other item? Oh, yes.

1The White House issued the following announcements with respect to the offer of aid to the flood stricken areas in Europe:

On August 6, that the President was gratified that the offer had been accepted by East Germany;

On August 12, that Hungary had accepted and that Foreign Minister Boldocsky had expressed his government's thanks to the President and to the American people;

On August 24, that Yugoslavia had accepted and that the President hoped that some assistance could be made quickly available through the League of Red Cross Societies;

On December 3, that the first relief cargo for the people of East Germany and Czechoslovakia was due to arrive that day at the East German port of Wismar, and that the shipment had been delayed because of the need for assuring that the relief would be administered under Red Cross principles.

See also Items 175, 195.

I just wanted to mention how delighted I was that the law providing for group life insurance for civil service was passed. It is a new idea for the benefit of civilian workers in the Federal Government, one I believe to be highly desirable. I am delighted Congress has passed it. We will go to the questions.

Q. Robert Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, the Senate controversy over the Flanders resolution appears to be both threatening to do serious harm to party unity and to keep the Senate in session considerably beyond the time when you have planned to leave Washington.

I wonder if you can give us first any appraisal, if not of the effort to censor Senator McCarthy itself, of the effect of this effort on Republican harmony in an election year; and two, any idea of your own plans if the Senate remains in session beyond mid-August--whether you would stay in Washington or go on to Denver.

THE PRESIDENT. Let me answer the second part first. It would seem to me, as I understand it,--now I am not quite clear as to what the plan is--but if the House adjourns and the Senate stays in session for this particular purpose, then there could be no legislation passed, and I would know of no reason why the White House staff and I personally could not follow out the programs we have set up for ourselves. And I might add, I hope that doesn't discommode too much you people who have the task of following along where I go. I don't know your sentiments on it.

Now, with respect to the other, of course, under our system this is clear: the party that has been given responsibility for the Federal Government through the elections to the National Legislature and to the Presidency has its head in the Presidency. The individual occupying the President's post cannot escape, of course, party responsibility, which does not mean by any manner of means that he approves of everything that goes on within the party, and he does his best in the party councils and wherever he thinks it would be effective to keep things going ahead that have an effect on the public mind.

The important thing, however, is a legislative program, things that have some permanent value and effect within the country. He gets the advice that is available to him to devise a program and to push it through. The long-term effects of his incumbency are going to be reflected in that way, in my opinion.

Now, the kind of controversy that is now going on in the Senate, of course is going to affect the party in some way or other. I cannot evaluate exactly what it will be; but until the Senate itself makes up its mind, through any process it wants to choose, exactly what it wants to do, it seems to me it would be not becoming for me to give particular judgments or opinions about it. That is their business. But I do say that anything that tends to divide the party is something that must concern me, and I must take such measures as are available to me to try to avoid it and to ameliorate it.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, Senator McCarthy put a letter in the Congressional Record the other day, and it was from Harry Woodring, former Secretary of War. Mr. Woodring had this to say about General George C. Marshall: "He would sell out his grandmother for personal advantage." He went on to say other things in that same vein. Mr. President, what do you think of that appraisal of General Marshall?

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, there are some things that cause me to be almost emotional.

Now, I believe that there are many of you here who knew General Marshall well, yourself, all during his war years, the work he did and the way he did it.

I happened to be one of those Army officers that did not meet General Marshall except in the most casual way until the war started. I think I had seen him twice in my life, in neither case not over a minute or two at the time. I was brought in, and my relationships with him have been largely, almost exclusively, official. But I would like to say, and I have been saying this ever since I first knew him well, that he to me has typified all that we look for in what we call an American patriot.

I saw many things he did that were proof to me, at least, of his selflessness. I am quite certain that he did not want to sit in Washington and be a Chief of Staff. I am sure he wanted a field command, but he wouldn't even allow his Chief to know what he wanted, because he said, "I am here to serve and not to satisfy personal ambition."

Now, later, of course, he went--after all, the war was over--to a different post. What the circumstances were of that post, I know nothing. What were his judgments, what were the things that could have been done and were not done or what things were done that should not have been done, I don't know. But I do know that General Marshall served according to his conceptions of his duty to his Chief.

I tried to put this in a book that I wrote once, and maybe somebody heard about it. I tried to say what I thought about him. I have been saying it ever since, and I shall continue to say it until there is evidence that I just don't believe exists in this world that I am wrong.

So I repeat that I think that to reward a man who gave at least 50 years of his life to the service of his country--a great deal of it in junior positions, but if you go back through his record you will find it was a brilliant record, always serving to the best of his ability. I believe as a first lieutenant, if I recall, he was picked out to serve as the Chief of Staff of the greatest maneuvers ever held in the Philippines until that time; it was indicative of his ability and his dedication to his job. And all the way through, his record is studded with that kind of performance.

I think it is a sorry reward at the end of that long term to say that he is not a loyal, fine American, and that he served only in order to advance his own personal ambitions.

I can't imagine anyone that I have known in my career of whom this is less so than it is in his case.

I am sorry if I have made a speech, but that is the way I feel.

Q. Ethel Payne, Defender Publications: Mr. President, some time ago you suggested that the housing agencies be queried on what has been done to implement that section of your message to Congress of January 25, 1954, which said that there must be steps taken to secure decent and well-located homes for all Americans. The housing agencies were asked about this, but no satisfactory answer was received, except an indication from Mr. Cole that there might be called a housing conference on minority problems soon. Six months have passed since your message; and now that the housing bill has passed, could you tell us what will be done to halt the practice of using Federal funds to assist in the promotion of housing from which racial minorities are excluded?

THE PRESIDENT. You have asked me a question that if I would say what was going to be done, I would have to say I haven't any plan here I can expose to you.

I have tried as hard as I know how to have accepted this idea, that where Federal funds and Federal authority are involved, there should be no discrimination based upon any reason that is not recognized by our Constitution. I shall continue to do that.

Now, with respect to the specific nature of your question, the only thing I can do is to ask Mr. Hagerty to go to the agencies involved, find out about it, and to give you the answer as well as he can.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, I don't think anyone has asked you this for some time. I wonder if you could be specific on what you think the principal issues will be in the fall congressional campaign.

THE PRESIDENT. I think everybody has their own ideas, apparently, of what are going to be the specific issues. I know what mine are going to be: has the man or the individual who may be in question at any moment, has he done his best to help put over a program that is in consonance with the platforms to which we are all pledged in a political party, and the programs that have been devised by the principal leaders, executive and legislative, of that party, for the benefit of America?

Now, the issue is going to be, as far as I am concerned: is the record a good one or is it not. Whether or not everybody else will accept that as the issue, I don't know, but that is mine.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, General Vogel, who is nominated for the TVA, tells us he does not know who sponsored him, and he doesn't know why he was selected other than his his record. Can you tell us how he was selected and for what reason?

THE PRESIDENT. Only because, Mr. Brandt, I was searching this country for a man whose type I described to you some 3 or 4 months ago. There was nobody that sponsored him. It was in a search of all of the available sources that we finally ran across his name, got him in, talked to him, and asked him whether he would do it.

He has not, of course, yet reached the age, I think, of compulsory retirement, but he was the kind of man we wanted, and he agreed to serve if approved.

Q. Mr. Brandt: May I ask one more?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mr. Brandt: In your specification, you said, "One who agreed with you in a philosophical approach to TVA."

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Is there any agreement on that?

THE PRESIDENT. This is all that I asked him to do: I said, "You are competent; I am not going to talk to you at all about the way you run the place as a competent engineer. But I do want to know all the facts about this. And finally, in your recommendations to Congress and to me, base them upon your best judgment as to what should be done in the expansion or anything else about this great organization." And I specifically called his attention to the fact that I am pledged against any action that tends to destroy it.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: I would like to ask you, sir, a question about your atomic energy pool, your international pool for atomic energy. I don't think we have ever really had a rundown as to what happened in the negotiations with the Soviet Union, nor are we clear as to where we go from here now that that phase of those negotiations are completed. I wonder, sir, whether you would tell us something of the negotiations and what the future of them seems to be.

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, the second you mention the word "atomic energy," I draw in on myself a little bit, because we have laws that are very strict about what may be revealed, and I am sometimes uncertain of what is in the public domain and what I have read elsewhere in my own confidential reports.

I can tell you this: the proposal as placed before the Soviets was not favorably received. Now, whether or not there have been any details of the correspondence and the talks back and forth, I don't know. But there I would just have to ask that you go to the Secretary of State, because he will know how much of that can be put out.

Now, when that happened, I instantly started studies: "What can we do in any event without the Russians?" Because one of the purposes I think we should attempt to achieve is to make certain that the public opinion of the world knows by demonstration that there is some useful purpose to which this new science can be devoted rather than mere destruction.

We encountered too often--and this is based upon reports that I get from all over the world--"atomic energy is really of interest to only two or three of the great nations and they are going to try to destroy each other with it."

I should like to make every nation in the world know that there is the possibility, the potentiality here, for a great increase in their standards of living of all kinds. Therefore, I don't propose to be defeated in this merely because the Soviets won't go along.

Now, it will take a little bit of doing, because one part of the plan will have to be abandoned. Frankly, I hope that through an arrangement like this, a practical arrangement, there would grow up a field in which we, with our enemies, at least in this cold war, could begin to talk decently and intelligently and constructively, rather than finding it necessary always to stand up and call names and create further division in the world.

I think this: Americans know that we are peaceful; they know that we have no desire to start the great cataclysm of war. They know that what we want for other people are merely the rights that we enjoy ourselves. But the job of getting other people to believe that is terrific--we know that the Soviets are spending literally billions in different kinds of propaganda, ranging all the way from commercial exhibits to every kind of propaganda, subversion, and bribery that they find to be effective.

I think we must be more imaginative in finding ways to combat it; and I think furthermore we must be less niggardly when we do think we have a good way of meeting this thing, we should be less niggardly in doing it.

Permit me one more word. I think we should talk less about American leadership in the world, because we are trying to be a good partner. Leadership, if it is existing, should be acknowledged by others, because as long as we attempt to look upon ourselves as "We know the right answers; now, you get in with them," I think that is poor psychology and poor psychological methods.

We want to do what is right, what is just and what is decent, and try to get them going along because they believe in the same things.

We, though, being the largest and the strongest of this group of nations, we would hope that they finally would come to say, "Well, we must have the United States." To that extent the leadership becomes, let us say, implicit rather than explicitly stated by ourselves, because I just don't think it is good business to be shouting about that all the time.

A platoon leader doesn't get his platoon to go that way, by getting up and saying, "I am smarter, I am bigger, I am stronger, I am the leader." He gets men to go with him because they want to do it for him, because they believe in him.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, up on Capitol Hill, Senator Cooper and Congressman Frelinghuysen have introduced compatible bills on emergency school construction. Thus far they feel they have a certain amount of backing, but there is a general uncertainty on the Hill as to how much administration support this emergency school building program for $250 million has. Now, sir, are you for such legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I do not know the details of that particular legislation. There are particular kinds of school construction that I have supported all along, and recommended. With respect to this one, I don't know its details, I'd suggest you go to Secretary Hobby to find out where we stand.

Q. Mr. Herling: It has the support of the National Education Association and trade unions, and so on.

THE PRESIDENT. That in itself wouldn't be the influencing factor. I would like to take a look at the whole story. It is their business to get all these facts together and present them to me, and I haven't seen any analysis of these bills.

Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Journal of Commerce: Mr. President, could you tell us your reaction to the cut that the Senate voted yesterday in the foreign aid bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is very unfortunate. We in the executive department, in looking at this phase of our security and foreign program, cut as far as we thought was safe and proper. The House took out, I believe, about $ 100 million, and that is as good a guess as ours. I have no objection.

I think the cuts voted yesterday are too deep and will hurt us badly.

I believe there is some lack of comprehension of what the people on the other side of the Curtain, the people in the Kremlin, are doing. I don't believe there would be so much resentment or so much resistance to this if they could really see that we are desperately trying to build up confidence among the free nations of the world, confidence and some understanding, giving them a chance to have a life of their own.

I should like to point this out: you cannot help a country militarily unless it wants to be free. How can you go into a nation, how can the United States go in anywhere unless the native population asks you in? If you do, you are either a paternalistic sort of dictator in the world or you are an exponent of colonialism, both of which I think America rejects.

Consequently, if they are going to be on our side, they have got to have some chance, some hope of making a living. And that is important, I think.

Q. John D. Morris, New York Times: Mr. President, could we have permission to quote you on your reply to the question about General Marshall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you. If you will allow Mr. Hagerty to look it over so that he sees that I haven't tied up syntax and construction, and ended my sentences with prepositions, why, I don't mind. He might object, because the constant quoting, of course, then finally you ask me a question and I say, "No"--that puts it out of context.

This is what I say: I have said it so often that, this one, I would see no reason for objecting to quoting. But if you will see him, I think he will give it to you.

Q. William V. Shannon, New York Post: Mr. President, are you acquainted with an organization known as the American Assembly?

THE PRESIDENT. Indeed I am.

Q. Mr. Shannon: Well, they went on record last week against allowing Red China into the U.N. at this time, but they also said that they are opposed "to a rigid policy of permanent opposition to admission of this regime," and I was wondering if you would see any merit in their conclusion.

THE PRESIDENT. I think they are being realistic. Might I ask anybody here who, in let us say the winter of '44-45, when we were engaged in the Battle of the Bulge, could have seen the time when we were looking upon Germany and then, applying the same standard, Japan, as people we seek to reach understandings with and to make close associates?

Now, remember, China is a great mass of human beings, hundreds of millions. Those of you who have traveled through China I know have been as astonished as I have that so many people could live in such a space. They have a government of which we violently disapprove, and we are not going to accept them in any organism in which we have any say under present conditions. But for me to say to you here that I know what the conditions 5 years from now are going to be, well, you would know that I was a little bit off my rocker. And so I am not going to try.

So the Assembly, as far as I see it--and I haven't seen that quotation--they are merely saying, "Of course, we are not going to admit them if we can help it at this time." And I think we can help it! But we are always ready to see whether the sinner reforms and comes into the fold; that is the way I feel about it.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's forty-seventh news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 10:57 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 4, 1954. In attendance: 140.

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/232430

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