• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: And Then the Squirrels

3 minute read

While the President of the U.S. struggled with the problems of war and peace, leaks and counter-leaks, he also had to face squarely the issue of the squirrels. Three squirrels that had been digging at the President’s putting green had been trapped by White House groundkeepers and set free in more primeval areas. Although Oregon’s Democratic Senator Richard Neuberger had cried out against such inhumanity to defenseless beasts (TIME, April 4), no one had forced the President to make a public statement on the issue. After he had answered questions on world affairs for nearly half an hour at his news conference last week, a reporter got around to: “Mr. President, how about the squirrels?”

Ike twisted an ear lobe, grinned, broke into a chuckle and said: “Well, I will tell you, I think first you ought to interview the squirrels and find out if anybody is unhappy. I don’t see any reason of producing another pressure group until we find out they are really unhappy, with a freedom I would personally dearly love.” Before anyone could ask whether that was an announcement that he would not run for reelection, the U.P.’s Merriman Smith shouted, “Thank you, Mr. President,” and the conference was over.

Last week the President also:

¶ Signed into law the much debated but unchanged Administration bill extending corporation and excise taxes for another year at present rates.

¶ Signed into law the Administration bill providing $745 million to give career members of the armed services an immediate average 11% pay increase.

¶ Reduced by $76 million the Administration request to Congress for Atomic Energy Commission operating funds for the next fiscal year. The Budget Bureau said the cut was possible because of “adjustments,” and did not reflect a cut in the atomic-energy program.

¶Took pains to say “how much I have respected and admired the attitude” of Georgia’s Democratic Senator Walter George, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, “in trying to preserve a true bipartisan, unpartisan approach to all our foreign problems.”

¶ Breakfasted with a group of Republican women, and lingered after breakfast to get the formula for the beef sausages and beef bacon that had been served, explaining that he might want to make some, some day, on his Gettysburg farm.

¶ Scheduled a vacation to start April 12, when he will fly to Charleston, S.C. to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from The Citadel, a military college headed by Old Soldier Mark Clark. From Charleston he will fly on to Augusta, where he hopes to stay until April 24 or 25, getting in a few golf rounds with his alternate choices to win the Masters Tournament, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead.

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