APRIL 29, 1954
ATHENS, Ohio—The one subject which catches everybody's eye in the papers is the Senate inquiry during which the Army and Senator McCarthy seem to argue more about proper procedures than they do about matters of fact!
The only really important thing to discover is whether improper influence was used. To ask for something is not improper if the thing in itself is justified. Whatever you ask for, however, is improper if you couple it with a threat of something which may happen unless the people from whom you are making the request accede to your wishes.
It does not seem to me that anything in this inquiry needed as much publicity as it is getting. In fact, I feel sure that if we never saw Senator McCarthy's name again, the Communists would still be discovered by the proper authorities and life would be much simpler for those who really like to feel that our main attention is being devoted to the really important issues of the day.
Indo-China looks to the uninitiated outsider like myself to be a very serious question and I am certainly more interested in what we do there and in Geneva than I am in anything concerning our rambunctious Senator. I hope that since he has asked for and received the right to cross-examine witnesses, however, that he will remember that in the future and give that same right to those he calls before him.
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The President has just made a very interesting tour in Kentucky. I could follow him most of the way in my mind's eye. He spoke with some feeling about the way Lincoln had been criticized during the Civil War. I think all of us like to hear re-emphasized the qualities which have made Lincoln a hero to every American, whether he is a Republican or a Democrat.
This quote is worth remembering: "The true values of America, he (Lincoln) understood are enduring, and they hold us together, and so he was patient. He was forbearing. He was understanding. And he lives today in our hearts as one of the greatest men that the English-speaking race has produced. Yet, never did he fall into the false habit of striking a Napoleonic attitude at any time or under any provocation."
The President emphasized Lincoln's gentleness, but I think perhaps one needs to emphasize also his sense of humor for that must be what really pulled him through many of his most difficult situations.