Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 22, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. If I am late, I apologize.

The two items that I should say are of the most general interest this morning come out of the Korean situation and out of East Germany. There is very little that I can add to the discussions we have had before, so far as Korea is concerned. There remain, of course, certain points of misunderstandings that create some doubt, but I can only say that I am still hopeful and reasonably confident that a reasonable armistice is to be signed soon. I don't know exactly when; I wouldn't predict that.

On Germany, we saw the dispatches this morning that locally the Soviet High Commissioner was resentful of our putting food into Berlin.

I think it was on July 10th that I said we would instantly put $15 million worth of food there to help out. We asked no remuneration, no return, no exchange of goods. We just put it there for humanitarian purposes; and, of course, it is difficult for us to understand why they should object to that, where they have any ground for objection to feeding hungry people.

I believe two shipments have actually gone, and I believe one is to go about tomorrow, completing the first portion of what we thought would be necessary for the relief of immediate hunger. I regret that there is difficulty arising. But as you know, we put it in the hands of Chancellor Adenauer himself, who was interested to get it over there and to deliver it, and it will still remain available in West Berlin. There is food there and people come to get it; so long as they are not prevented from coming to get it they will continue to get it.

Now, those are the only two items that I thought of that I had something to say about, so we will go right to the questions.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Others have reviewed and appraised your first 6 months in office. I wondered if you would have a go at it, and give us an estimate of the situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you: certainly I wouldn't want, in answer to a question, to take advantage of that to use up the next 25 minutes in a long talk.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, Christian Science Monitor: We wouldn't mind if you did.

THE PRESIDENT. I would be completely deceitful if I tried to pretend that everything that I thought we could have done in this 6 months has been done. But after this turnover of authority of last January--it makes no difference on which side of the political philosophy you yourself may believe, may exist, and may belong--you can see that there was a very, very great, almost revolutionary activity necessary to pick up where others had left off and to begin again. There were opposing policies and ideas coming in after 20 years of another type of philosophy. Not always, though--and here I want to make this very clear--not always must we say that everything that has been done before is wrong. I have never said that, and no reasonable man would; but there are certain areas in which disagreement was obvious.

Now, you get new people, you get new ideas working, and you find that frictions develop. In such a thing as the governmental organization, we have two and a half million civilians. How can you change people's thinking even when they may be only in an important operational position? You have got to get policy worked out so that two and a half million people can implement it. It is a long, laborious process.

Then, of course, the party: either party that is in power is not in itself a completely homogeneous whole; it is divided up into different kinds of thinking on particular subjects, whether it be foreign trade or taxes or revenues or whatever you are doing in the proper functioning of a Federal government. You have these differences; so trouble develops.

I personally believe that we must always think of government as persons. You get a group of persons who are in the legislature and who are in the executive branch; and they try to work out, hammer out on the anvil of logic and fact and statistics, certain programs that they believe best for 157 million people and their relationships with others in this world.

That is laborious, and it is slow. I personally believe this: if it were accomplished too quickly--even if every change were for the better--if it were accomplished too quickly, it would be wrong.

You cannot take a railroad and have a right angle turn in it, a sharp right angle turn; you have to build a curve. Now, you have to do that with such things as involve two and a half million people. Great policies, great types of problems, fall upon that government.

So all I am trying to say is that the change is gradual; it is not so rapid as to be completely satisfying even to a person who, I think, is as patient as I am; certainly I try to be patient.

But there has been progress made. I personally believe that every day the people in this Government--and I am not referring now merely to one party--the people in the Government, the executive and the legislative, are coming to see a little bit closer eye to eye on the great important problems that affect the United States of America.

That, to my mind, is progress. Because my job here, as I see it, is not to create friction, not to accentuate differences, but to bring people together so we can actually achieve progress, not to be particularly dramatic or just to do something to get another headline, but to get progress for the United States of America.

Now, in that sense--and that is a theory of gradualism, there is no question about it--we are making progress, but we have not gone as fast as I should like. That is the sum total of it.

Q. Elizabeth Carpenter, Southwestern Newspapers: The Little Rock, Arkansas, Gazette asked me if I would ask you to comment on the extent, if any, that politics figured in the declaration of drought disaster counties.

I think their question stems from the fact that the unsuccessful Republican candidate down there made a public statement saying that if the people had had the foresight to elect him, some of the Arkansas counties which were passed over for drought aid would have been not passed over.

THE PRESIDENT. Well [laughing], I am not going to get righteously indignant, but this is the first time I have heard the word "politics" brought up in connection with that drought program. Certainly I didn't go down there to talk to the Governors--I didn't ask them their politics, I didn't ask them who they favored or anything else.

This is a question of people being in a plight, and we are trying to help them out. Anyone who raises the question of politics is raising a question which I had not even heard of before, and which I will not entertain now.

Q. Neal A. Stanford, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, you spoke of certain points of misunderstanding on the Korean truce. Are those points of misunderstanding with the South Koreans or the North Koreans, and can you pinpoint the differences?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't pinpoint them for this reason: the whole arrangements to be made in the truce itself are still in executive session. They are confidential and secret, and I will not talk about anything that could be remotely interpreted as my violating that particular thing.

Now, some of the misunderstandings with the south have been put in the papers. There is no use reviewing those. There has been a different approach springing, possibly, out of the different locations of these people. But as far as the differences with the north are concerned, they are on the secret basis, as I understand it.

Q. Harry W. Frantz, South American Service, United Press: I don't know if you have received enough reports yet from your brother's mission that you wish to comment on. I have in mind the fact that many countries gave a very elaborate and generous reception to your brother, and I thought you might make some mention of it.

THE PRESIDENT. Only this: every country where he has visited has then sent to me a file of clippings, pictures, official reports, and so on. So far as I can see, the trip is accomplishing everything for which I hoped.

I am trying to pay a call, to pay my respects, and I am doing it through the person of my brother, to all of these heads of the South American states; to assure them in this fashion of our interest in them, our recognition that we have in certain respects a common fate, and we had better work it out together.

The reception accorded him makes me feel that they are looking at it in the same way. I have had very little in the way of detailed report from him, almost nothing.

Q. Felix Cotten, International News Service: Mr. President, I have been asked to ask you certain questions about the Korean matter. Not that I want to labor the thing, but there were reports that a new message has been delivered to Mr. Rhee by Mr. Briggs, and the Foreign Minister is quoted as saying that "the South Korean Government considers the Robertson-Rhee agreement broken, and we will not observe any implementation of the armistice."

I just wondered if you cared to comment on that particular phase of the matter?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no further comment that I think of that I can make on Korea. I don't think it would be helpful. I'm sorry.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Something you said in response to Mr. Folliard's question brought this question into my mind. A number of people have urged that you bring some discipline into the Republican Party by cracking down on McCarthy. In here you have previously said that your objective was not to create friction but to bring people together.

I wonder if that remark could be made to apply to your philosophy regarding Senator McCarthy?

THE PRESIDENT. I must remind you again that I never deal in my statements, to you or to anyone else, in terms of personalities, and I don't now.

I merely say that if a democracy, with all of its different viewpoints and approaches to our various problems, is going to make progress, someone has to take on the onerous job of trying to search out, analyze, and bring together the majority of view, or what you might call the bulk of public opinion, and get it translated into law where necessary, into regulation, or into policy.

You cannot get ahead merely by indulging extremist views and listening to them. What do they bring? They don't bring majority action.

What I am trying to do is to get what I believe to be the commonsense approach of America to its various problems, to get them implemented and to get ahead.

Now, where I have to go into opposition to any person, I try to do it on the basis of principles, on the basis of utter convictions, on the basis of my own conscience. I am not going to take time, either in public or private, to question the motives of anybody else; that is between him and someone else, not between him and me.

I am going to stand for what I believe to be right. If that is found to be in opposition to what someone else says, publicly or privately, then that is too bad; but that is what I am going to stand for. So, I am not going to do it through terms of personalities.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. Sam Rayburn, the House Democratic leader, told the House yesterday that he hoped before they had to pass on the bill limiting oil imports, on a bill establishing a quota for oil imports, that they would get the advantage of your views. Would you like to say what you think about limiting oil imports?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, by and large, I believe we have got to have freer trade in the world. I believe we are particularly anxious that all of our Western Hemisphere friends prosper.

When we begin to apply these types of beliefs to this question of limiting oil imports, why, I may have in the long run to change my opinions a little bit. I think that I wouldn't want to do it, certainly, from the Western Hemisphere.

Now, that is just shooting from the hip, and without the advantage of talking to my advisers on it; but I certainly--in the Western Hemisphere--don't think we should indulge in it yet.

Q. Glenn M. Green, Jr., McGraw-Hill Publications: Mr. President, I believe that question related to the so-called second Simpson bill, which is about to be brought up in the House. Do you believe, Mr. President, that that bill in any way conflicts with your previously expressed position on trade and trade policy?

THE PRESIDENT. I personally don't want to change the laws under which we are operating until we have had this opportunity under the year's extension of the Reciprocal Trade Act to study it absolutely.

With respect to this question and the previous one, I would be foolish to pretend to a profound knowledge of all of these things. Someone comes in and presents one viewpoint, someone else another; it takes a long time to get these varied viewpoints and arguments analyzed, put together, and reach what you can call a stated policy. So on neither question do I have an irrevocable policy.

I do just believe, in general, we should be given now the chance to continue the existing arrangements until we can study it through the finest body of people we can put together.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: The House Appropriations Committee has voted to cut the foreign-aid funds by a billion dollars. Do you believe that the program can operate successfully under those circumstances?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Arrowsmith, of course, I have never tried to fix an exact dollar level as indicative of the worthwhileness or the destruction of a policy.

Now, I want to make this clear: I have been around the fringes, at least, of this problem for a long time. I have never looked upon what we now call MSA as giveaway programs. Everything I do in my present office, and what I did before, was approached basically from this viewpoint: where lies the enlightened self-interest of the United States? And when I find that that leads me inevitably into the conclusion that we must have strong worthwhile alliances with other people in the world, then I look to see how we can establish those alliances and maintain what I call collective security.

To my mind--and this is the way I approached the determination of the amount of money in that MSA appropriation--I put it right square alongside our own security program, because I think that is exactly where it belongs.

We are looking at the position of the United States in the free world, its ability to establish collective security, which means its own security; and those two should be viewed together.

So, at least I want to say this: when we go at that program, I don't think merely of how much are we cutting here and there; how are we affecting the security and the position of the United States of America, that is the way I look at it.

Now, I think, and I have been doing a lot of studying on it, I think that cut is too heavy.

Q. Frederic W. Collins, Providence Journal: Mr. President, this goes back to some of the questions on foreign-trade legislation. Could you tell us whether you yourself favor the innovation of a partisan majority on the Tariff Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think you mean to load your question, but no one ever before put it to me in terms of partisan majority.

The only time it was put up to me was that people in the Government, including Congress, had gotten impatient by the fact that stalemates took place over there, which kept a subject so long that you could not really force it out of that Commission. I accepted the solution of adding an individual, from one side or the other.

Now, I never thought of it as a partisan thing. I was perfectly ready to take one fewer. It is something, all right, that raised more sound and fury than I had anticipated, because I looked at it probably not as deeply as I should have. That may be so; but at the time it was proposed, it looked to me like merely a way of putting some decisiveness in a board in which I had heard there had been indecision.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Sir, may we have permission to quote you directly on your reply to Mr. Folliard's question on the 6 months' review?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no, I think not. You might take a sentence or two, and take it to Mr. Hagerty; but I think if we start that, then I would have to come over to see you with written documents, and I don't think any of you would want me to do that.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President--

THE PRESIDENT. I just feel--excuse me one second; and I appreciate your due consideration, because I am warm, too--but I just feel that we had better keep these on the informal basis on which we started, or we are likely to suffer in the long run.

Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's fourteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 10:53 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 22, 1953. In attendance: 141.

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/231792

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