• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: Without Regrets

3 minute read

To Dwight Eisenhower, the past few months have brought one setback after another for his program (at the hands of Congress) and his party (at the hands of the Wisconsin electorate). Last week, at his final Washington news conference before he flew off to a long-awaited vacation at Newport, R.I., the President was asked —again—if he regretted running for a second term. His answer was a characteristic bit of Eisenhower philosophy:

“I don’t know of anything more useless than regret. So there is no regret on my part. Now, to say that I have been as successful as I hoped I would be in a great many directions . . . would be untrue. On the other hand, I am so constituted that I don’t believe ever in giving up. I will continue to strive and struggle to apply what I think are conservative principles to the modern problems that we have so … we will come to see the benefit of what I call the middle-of-the-road government.”

In that philosophical mood, Ike, accompanied by a convalescing Mamie, flew to a community that has entertained eleven Presidents since George Washington visited there in 1790. Proper, poised Newport and its 40,000 inhabitants warmed up to the Eisenhower charm, gave the President an all-out welcome.

Once the reception was over, Newport, with good New England grace, allowed the Eisenhowers the privacy they had come for. On Coasters Harbor Island they settled down in the naval base’s commanding officer’s refurbished Quarters A, a 67-year-old, 2½-story, white brick colonial-style house whose second-floor windows overlook Narragansett Bay. The President established a routine divided between play and work in his temporary office in the base communications building 100 ft. from Quarters A. Across the bay at the venerable (67 years old) Newport Country Club he played golf, doffed his cap one day to the gallery of members who cheered a solid-235-yd. drive.

At week’s end the President flew back to Washington for conferences on the Middle East and the South, signed 27 bills, but pocket-vetoed one that would have raised the pay of 1,500,000 postal workers and other federal employees a total of $850 million a year on the grounds that it was inflationary. Then he drove to Baltimore to spend 45 minutes at the debut of Niece Ruth Eisenhower, 19-year-old daughter of his brother Milton. He had, indeed, the air of a man with no regrets and with a great deal of calm determination.

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