Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

December 02, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am glad to see you. Some of you I haven't seen since the middle of September. [Laughter]

I have no announcements to make. If there are any questions, I will try to answer them.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, in the current issue of the Adantic Monthly, Bradley Dewey, who is a civilian member on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Evaluation Board, has an article that says in effect this: that the Board drew up a report, that it was stripped of any security or secret measures by the Military Atomic Energy Commission, and then was sent here with the intention that it was to be made public; and he winds up the article by saying that the White House has kept it from the American people for a year, and it is necessary that the people have this--

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Dewey is just mistaken, that's all. That seems to run with the name. [Laughter]

Q. Is that report available at all?

THE PRESIDENT. That report is not available.

Q. What was the answer to that?

Mr. Ross [to the President]: That was completely taken care of by the statement of Secretary Forrestal some time ago.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, yes. The Secretary of Defense took care of that in a statement that was made some time ago.1

1In an article in the December issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, Bradley Dewey, industrialist and former civilian member of the joint Chiefs of Staff Evaluation Board, demanded that the White House release the Board's report on the 1946 atomic weapons tests off Bikini Island in the Pacific. On November 27 the press reported that a spokesman for the National Military Establishment stated that Secretary of Defense Forrestal had recommended to the President that the final official report on the Bikini tests be withheld from the public for national security reasons.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, your Budget Director, in a speech today, said in essence that there would have to be new taxes, or a deficit.

THE PRESIDENT. That will be answered in the Message on the State of the Union, or the Budget Message, or a message on the economic situation. One of the three will answer that question. I can't answer it now. I haven't all the facts before me.

Q. Mr. President, out here in "left field" we are having difficulty hearing you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, I will try to speak out. If this keeps up, I will put in a loudspeaker in here. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, one more question, do you think that the defense plans can be held within $15 billion?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question in the Budget Message.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, have you any word from Secretary Marshall as to whether he feels physically well enough to continue as Secretary of State?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, can you enlighten us any on the China situation,1 or do you intend to make a statement of policy about it, or can you clear Up--

THE PRESIDENT. I have on three different occasions made a statement on China policy. I have nothing further to say on it.

1During the month of November 1948 the press reported that the Chinese Nationalist Government had suffered several defeats at the hands of the Communist forces who had launched an offensive at the heart of the Government's position in the Yangtze Valley. On November 30 Chiang Kai-shek assumed personal command of the defense of the capital city of Nanking, and on December 2 the Communists moved into Suchow which had been evacuated by the Government forces.

Q. Nothing further?

THE PRESIDENT. Nothing further to say.

Q. Mr. President, have you had time to set a date when you will receive Madame Chiang?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the time has been set.

Q. Can we know it?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will let you know when she comes in.

Q. But you will receive Madame Chiang?

THE PRESIDENT. Why sure. That's the first thing she asked for when she got into town.

[5.] Q. Do you think that the 10 Democratic Congressmen who campaigned as Dixiecrats should retain their seniority privileges in committee assignments in the House--

THE PRESIDENT. That's a matter for the House of Representatives to answer, not for me.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to clear up some things on what you said or didn't say, about whether the electoral votes that were won by Governor Thurmond should be voted for the Governor, or for the successful Democratic--

THE PRESIDENT. I said nothing about it. But I don't want the Dixiecrat vote. We won without New York and without the solid South, and I am proud of that.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided what kind of job former Governor Mon Wallgren is going to have ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, is it too early to tell whom you will have for the next Ambassador to the Philippines?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is a little early. I will announce it when the time comes.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Senator McGrath the other day said something about your not having a policy on handling detail legislation to Congress. There have been reports since then that the Labor Department has worked on the detail laws for possible recommendations when they ask for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley law. Are you going to make detail recommendations?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that when it comes up.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, did Dean Acheson visit you yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and the day before, and the day before that.

Q. Three days in a row?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and at my request. I was discussing a matter with him, the same as I have with President Hoover.

Q. Is there anything you can tell us about it, in addition to that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, just a discussion of the Commission 1 on which they are both working.

1 Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, what about Mr. Forrestal, will he stay with you?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Forrestal has been asked to stay.

Q. Mr. President, has Mr. Marshall been asked to stay?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Marshall has been asked to stay.

Q. Will both of them stay?

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to ask them.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, Puerto Rico has its first elected Governor in Dr. Munoz Marin. Have you given any thought to attending his inaugural?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have. I would like very much to go. I don't know whether I can or not because our Congress meets the next day.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, have Mr. Marshall or Mr. Forrestal answered your request?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they have.

Q. Will they stay?

THE PRESIDENT. They are perfectly willing to stay.

Q. Mr. President, has Secretary Krug been asked to stay?

THE PRESIDENT. Secretary Krug has been asked to stay.

Q. In fact, has everybody, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. There will be no changes in the Cabinet at this time. I think that will answer all those questions.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, reports from Paris said that the United States and Britain have reached agreement on the full disposition of the Italian colonies, as expressed before the United Nations. Is that correct, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard about it, officially or otherwise.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, when you say there would be no changes at this time, does that mean--

THE PRESIDENT. Don't you remember back in 1945 you kept asking me these questions-you asked me these questions, and the situation adjusted itself. The situation will adjust itself as we go along. You will be informed whenever any changes take place, if, as, and when they do.

Q. Have all been asked to stay, Mr. President?


Q. All agreed?


Q. For any stated time, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No one in top-level Government is ever hired for a stated time. It is at the pleasure of the President.

Q. Should if, as, and when have equal emphasis?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. [Laughter] Yes-if, as, and when.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, there has been a suggestion that Jim Maloney was relieved of his duties as head of the Secret Service and kicked upstairs because he was planning to guard Dewey on election eve.

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about that. I am glad to hear that, but I didn't know it.

Q. Do you think that is true, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it.

Q. Why are you glad to hear it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Because it's a nice rumor that gives some of you columnists a chance to write another story.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, what about the plan to let Government workers have 2 days holiday to enjoy the inauguration celebration? Are you in favor--

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't gone into that at all. We will attend to that when it comes here.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, Sam Rayburn said recently that business has nothing to fear from this administration. We have been asked could you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Did business have anything to fear the last three years and a half?

[19.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can say on the Berlin situation?


[20.] Q. Mr. President, have you read any columns in which you found any truth at all--

THE PRESIDENT. Not lately! [Laughter] It's hard to find at any time. But I haven't read any lately that were true.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, there was a column that appeared in the Philadelphia paper on November 29th, written by a man, Jay Franklin,1 who was associated with your campaign, in which he sort of indicated that there might be some change in foreign policy. This is a quote from his column, that the effect on the election dynamited the foundations of the whole Byrnes, Forrestal, Marshall program. Could you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a typical columnist comment, and I have no comment to make on it.

1 Pseudonym of John Franklin Carter, Jr., author and radio commentator.

Q. I was asked to ask that. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right. You got an answer! [More laughter]

[22.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything else that you could say as to the need for the lobbying investigation?

THE PRESIDENT. I have said all I need to say on that subject.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some fear that this country's policies might turn German industry back to the cartels that once owned them.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there's any need to fear that situation at all, not so long as I am President.

Q. We didn't hear the question.

THE PRESIDENT. He said it is rumored that we are going to turn German industry back to the German cartels, the ones that in the last war tried to help us lose the war. If you remember, I made an investigation of that myself. So long as I am President, the German cartels will never come back to life.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to see Madame Chiang Kai-shek?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do. I have already made an engagement with her to receive her.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, did Mr. Martin's 1 visit with you today have anything to do with a loan to Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he was discussing his budget with me.

1 William McC. Martin, Jr., Chairman, Export-Import Bank of Washington.

Q. Have there been any developments in your policy towards Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. None. None whatever.

[26.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us how you are getting along with your budget?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you all seem to know more about it than I do. I am going to have a message ready on it, though. It will be the kind of budget that I want, and no other kind.

Q. Will it be higher than last year?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that when the budget comes out.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, one of your columnist critics has written that your position on lobbyists might be interpreted as a blow at the right of petition?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I saw that. He has been wrong--that fellow has been wrong about everything, so I don't think it's worth any consideration.

Q. Is there any particular thing--I think it would be a good thing if you would set forth--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know very well that there is no reason in the world why anybody who feels the urge can't go and talk to a committee on any subject he feels like talking about. That was the case when I was in the Senate. But these paid lobbyists are another thing, and I am against them.

[28.] Q. Mr. President, can you amplify your statement that the cartels tried to help us lose the war?

THE PRESIDENT. If you go back and look at the record of the Truman committee, you will get the answer to that question.

[29.] Q. Mr. President, did Mr. McNutt 1 discuss the Philippine situation when he came?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not.

1 Paul v. McNutt, former United States High Commissioner to the Philippines.

[30.] Q. Mr. President, will you recommend an excess profits tax?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that in the messages later on.

[31.] Q. Mr. President, do you see any reason why we should assume certain political and military responsibilities in China, that we have in Greece?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[32.] Q. Mr. President, are you in favor of tightening the present laws for regulation of lobbies?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have been discussing the matter with the Attorney General. That's the best answer I can give you.

[33.] Q. Mr. President, you have been reported in a forgiving mood.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Who are you forgiving, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Nobody. I have got nobody to forgive. Go ahead and finish your question.

Q. That's what I am going to ask, who are you forgiving?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think the word was forgive. I think I said that I wasn't angry with anybody.

Q. Does that apply to the Cabinet?

THE PRESIDENT. It applies to everybody.

Mrs. May Craig (Portland, Maine, Press Herald): Mr. President, I am anxious to know if there is anybody you are not forgiving?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that there is anybody I have anything to forgive, except for Maine not going Democratic. [Laughter]

[34.] Q. Mr. President, is General MacArthur going to China?


Q. Is the Chinese situation changing our long-range defense plans?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that. I am not answering questions on China today.

[35.] Q. Mr. President, to go back to lobbyists, would you be against lobbyists who are working for your program?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's a different matter. We probably wouldn't call these people lobbyists. We would call them citizens appearing in the public interest. [Laughter] Of course I am not going to ask for anything that is not in the interests of the whole people.

[36.] Q. Mr. President, Justice Douglas addressed a CIO convention last week, and said that labor should have a greater role in diplomacy abroad. Do you favor--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that.

[37.] Q. Mr. President, will you renew your request for thorough control of the tidelands offshore oil lands?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly shall.

[38.] Q. Mr. President, on your comments about forgiving, does that include Mr. Ickes1 for the column which he wrote which appeared--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if you remember, Mr. Ickes tried his best to kill that column, but it was a little late, so I don't think that should be brought into the discussion at all. [Laughter]

1Harold L. Ickes, former Secretary of the Interior.

[39.] Q. Mr. President, are you still against the joint development by Ontario and New York on St. Lawrence power?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Canada and the United States ought to attend to that job.

[40.] Q. Mr. President, do you agree with the statement Secretary Forrestal made in New York yesterday, that the United States should give military aid to Western Europe?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

[41.] Q. Mr. President, the other day the Italian Ambassador came to you, apparently very concerned about the Italian colonies--

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct--which he had a perfect right to do--and I have no comment on that question.

[42.] Q. Mr. President, outside of your own efforts, what do you think did most to win the election?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh--everybody in the Democratic setup did everything he possibly could to help win the election; and as soon as the people got the facts, they voted right. They couldn't get the facts from your columns and things, so I had to go out and tell them.

Q. Well! [Laughter]

Q. Is there any particular credit--I am asking for facts not for the columns.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, of course.

Q. I don't write a column.

THE PRESIDENT. I know you don't.

Q. Would you give any particular credit to certain elements, like farmers, or--

THE PRESIDENT. Farmers, and labor, and Senator Barkley, Secretary of Agriculture, and Secretary of Labor--and I could name a whole list of them who made a great contribution to the winning.

Q. How about your opponent, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I think he was the greatest asset I had. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and fifty-ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 2, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234098

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