• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: The Book Critics

3 minute read

The controversy over the books in theState Department’s overseas libraries raged on. Dwight Eisenhower, who, in his Dartmouth speech (TIME, June 22), had incautiously adopted the language of those who exaggerated the book purge, had reason to rue his words. His redefined position was: he deplored suppression of ideas, but he saw no reason why the State Department should spend money to purvey to other nations books that advocate the destruction of the U.S. Government or undermine U.S. ideals or objectives. For two weeks, reporters, seeking further “clarification,” have harried Ike. Last week, at his shortest press conference (16 minutes), the President was once more an unwilling participant in a heated discussion on the subject of book-burning.

Raymond P. (“Pete”) Brandt, chief Washington correspondent for the crusading St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a man with the mournful face and tenacity of a bloodhound, questioned President Eisenhower sharply and at length. The President seemed to have trouble keeping his temper as he answered Reporter Brandt’s questions.

Did the President hope to get a clear directive about overseas library policy from the State Department?

Well, said the President, certainly.

“Is that possible?”

Certainly, answered the President.

Brandt: “Is it possible?”

The President thought it should be; yes, he thought it should be. There was no question where he stood. Now, he thought, it could be made clear so that any reasonable person could understand exactly what he meant.

Brandt: “There was some confusion between your Dartmouth speech and your press conference speech in which you said it was perfectly all right for the State Department to burn books or do as they pleased with them…”

The President glowered. He didn’t know he said that. He said that the Government would be foolish to promulgate and help to support the distribution of a book that openly advocated its own destruction by force.

Brandt: “One of the writers was Dashiell Hammett, who writes detective stories. So far as I know—and I have read several of them—I don’t see anything Communistic about them, but they were thrown out by the libraries . . .”

Ike Eisenhower smiled and recovered his composure. He thought someone got frightened, he said. He didn’t know why they should be—he wouldn’t. He would tell them that: he wouldn’t. And on that note the discussion ended.

Last week the President:

¶ Was properly surprised at a party secretlyarranged by his staff to mark the 37th anniversary of his marriage to Mamie Doud. With Mamie and Sherman Adams, Ike sang World War I songs until he was hoarse. This week the President observes another anniversary: just a year ago, in the arena at Chicago’s stockyards, he accepted the G.O.P. nomination for the presidency, and started the campaign that brought him to the White House.

¶ Signed a bill whichremoves more than 400 top Government officials from the federal leave system, prohibits them from receiving terminal payments for unused leave.

¶ Announced that his weight, which had risen recently to 182 lbs., has been trimmed by 3 lbs., is now just 3 lbs. over his ideal weight of 176.

¶ Spent a quiet Fourth of July weekend at Camp David in a relaxed round of golf, trout fishing and bridge.

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