Our loyalty is due entirely to the United States. It is due to the President only and exactly to the degree in which he efficiently serves the United States. It is our duty to support him when he serves the United States well. It is our duty to oppose him when he serves it badly. This is true about Mr. Wilson now and it has been true about all our Presidents in the past. It is our duty at all times to tell the truth about the President and about every one else, save in the cases where to tell the truth at the moment would benefit the public enemy.
The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgmentsocial, political, or ethicalcan raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him.
The President can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof. There is no undefined residuum of power which he can exercise because it seems to him to be in the public interest.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the burdens of the Presidency. Decisions that the President has to make often affect the lives of tens of millions of people around the world, but that does not mean that they should take longer to make. Some men can make decisions and some cannot. Some men fret and delay under criticism. I used to have a saying that applies here, and I note that some people have picked it up, If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
When contemplating General Eisenhower winning the Presidential election, Truman said, Hell sit here, and hell say, Do this! Do that! And nothing will happen. Poor Ikeit wont be a bit like the Army. Hell find it very frustrating.
You know, the greatest epitaph in the country is here in Arizona. Its in Tombstone, Ariz. , and this epitaph says, Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damndest. I think that is the greatest epitaph a man could have. Whenever a man does the best he can, then that is all he can do; and that is what your President has been trying to do for the last 3 years for this country.
The legislative job of the President is especially important to the people who have no special representatives to plead their cause before Congressand that includes the great majority. I sometimes express it by saying the President is the only lobbyist that one hundred and fifty million Americans have. The other twenty million are able to employ people to represent themand thats all right, its the exercise of the right of petitionbut someone has to look after the interests of the one hundred and fifty million that are left.
The need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if Congress provided an appropriation for the proper and legitimate expenses of each of the great national parties, an appropriation ample enough to meet the necessity for thorough organization and machinery, which requires a large expenditure of money. Then the stipulation should be made that no party receiving campaign funds from the Treasury should accept more than a fixed amount from any individual subscriber or donor; and the necessary publicity for receipts and expenditures could without difficulty be provided.
Well, I am reading more and enjoying it less[laughter]and so on, but I have not complained nor do I plan to make any general complaints. I read and talk to myself about it, but I dont plan to issue any general statement on the press. I think that they are doing their task, as a critical branch, the fourth estate. And I am attempting to do mine. And we are going to live together for a period, and then go our separate ways. [Laughter].
Government has an obligation not to inhibit the collection and dissemination of news. Im convinced that if reporters should ever lose the right to protect the confidentiality of their sources then serious investigative reporting will simply dry up. The kind of resourceful, probing journalism that first exposed most of the serious scandals, corruption and injustice in our nations history would simply disappear. And let me tell you, reading about ones failings in the daily papers is one of the privileges of high office in this free country of ours.
A prison taint was on everything there. The imprisoned air, the imprisoned light, the imprisoned damps, the imprisoned men, were all deteriorated by confinement. As the captive men were faded and haggard, so the iron was rusty, the stone was slimy, the wood was rotten, the air was faint, the light was dim. Like a well, like a vault, like a tomb, the prison had no knowledge of the brightness outside; and would have kept its polluted atmosphere intact, in one of the spice islands of the Indian Ocean.
Mr. Emerson visited Thoreau at the jail, and the meeting between the two philosophers must have been interesting and somewhat dramatic. The account of the meeting was told me by Miss Maria Thoreau [Henry Thoreaus aunt]Henry, why are you here? Waldo, why are you not here?
[1. ] The era of appeasement must come to an end. The political and social demands that dissidents are making of the universities do not flow from sound basic educational criteria, but from strategic considerations on how to radicalize the student body, polarize the campus and extend the privileged enclaves of student power. [2. ] A concise and clear set of rules for campus conduct should be established, transmitted to incoming freshmen, and enforcedwith immediate expulsion the penalty for serious violations. [3. ] It is folly for universities confronted with their current crisis in our turbulent times to open their doors to thousands of patently unqualified students. [4. ] No negotiations under threat or coercion. [5. ] No amnesty for lawlessness or violence. [6. ] Any organization which publicly declares its intention to violate the rules of an academic community and which carries out that declaration should be barred from campus. [7. ] We must look to how we are raising our children. [8. ] We must look to the university that receives those children. Is it prepared to deal with the challenge of the nondemocratic Left?[9. ] Let us support those courageous administrators, professors and students on our college campuses who are standing up for the traditional rights of the academic community.
Next came the Patent laws. These began in England in 1624; and, in this country, with the adoption of our constitution. Before then [these?], any man might instantly use what another had invented; so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this; secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.
I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
This is the criminal left that belongs not in a dormitory, but in a penitentiary. The criminal left is not a problem to be solved by the Department of Philosophy or the Department of Englishit is a problem for the Department of Justice. Black or white, the criminal left is interested in power. It is not interested in promoting the renewal and reforms that make democracy work; it is interested in promoting those collisions and conflict that tear democracy apart.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
But not the first Illusion, the new earth,The march upon the solitary fire,The casting of the dice of death and birthAgainst a giant, for a blind desire,The stream uncrossed, the promise still untried,The metal sleeping in the mountainside.
Property is the fruit of laborproperty is desirableis a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprize. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
The freest government, if it could exist, would not be long acceptable, if the tendency of the laws were to create a rapid accumulation of property in few hands, and to render the great mass of the population dependent and penniless. In such a case, the popular power would be likely to break in upon the rights of property, or else the influence of property to limit and control the exercise of popular power. Universal suffrage, for example, could not long exist in a community where there was great inequality of property. In the nature of things, those who have not property, and see their neighbors possess much more than they think them to need, cannot be favorable to laws made for the protection of property. When this class becomes numerous, it grows clamorous. It looks on property as its prey and plunder, and is naturally ready, at all times, for violence and revolution.
My rule, in which I have always found satisfaction, is, never to turn aside in public affairs through views of private interest; but to go straight forward in doing what appears to me right at the time, leaving the consequences with Providence.
An Athenian citizen does not neglect the state because he takes care of his own household; and even those of us who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of politics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as a harmless, but as a useless character, and if few of us are originators, we are all sound judges of a policy.
Nothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling ones pulse and taking ones temperature. I see that a speaker at the week-end said that this was a time when leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture.
You think of those kids out there. I say kids. I have seen them. They are the greatest. You see these bums, you know, blowing up the campuses. Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world, going to the greatest universities, and here they are burning up the books, I mean storming around about this issueI mean you name itget rid of the war; there will be another one. Out there weve got kids who are just doing their duty. I have seen them. They stand tall, and they are proud. I am sure they are scared. I was when I was there. But when it really comes down to it, they stand up and, boy, you have to talk up to those men. And they are going to do fine; weve got to stand back of them.
In government offices which are sensitive to the vehemence and passion of mass sentiment public men have no sure tenure. They are in effect perpetual office seekers, always on trial for their political lives, always required to court their restless constituents. They are deprived of their independence. Democratic politicians rarely feel they can afford the luxury of telling the whole truth to the people. And since not telling it, though prudent, is uncomfortable, they find it easier if they themselves do not have to hear too often too much of the sour truth. The men under them who report and collect the news come to realize in their turn that it is safer to be wrong before it has become fashionable to be right.
I made my mistakes, but in all of my years in public life, I have never profited, never profited from public serviceI have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.