Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

September 20, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I have a letter to the Vice President on the tax bill for release. It is ready and will be handed out to you after the conference. It will explain a great many questions that you may ask me here much better than I can do it off-the-cuff.1

Any questions ? I am ready.

1 See Item 228.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, on Monday, at the Library of Congress, you said that a Russian agreement wasn't worth the paper it was written on.2 If that is the case, will this country continue to seek agreements with Russia?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. When you are in the position to enforce those agreements, they will be kept. That is the reason for the defense program.

2 See Item 225.

I wish I had the time to tell you all the things that have happened since the Germans folded up.

Q. Mr. President, along that line, in view of the Russian diplomatic defeat at San Francisco, and the measures which were taken at Ottawa, and Senator McMahon's speech the other day, and your own statements, do you think that Russia has lost the initiative in the cold war? 3

THE PRESIDENT. That's a question I can't answer. We will have to wait for results to find out whether that is true or not.

3The reporter was referring to the conference for the conclusion of the Treaty or Peace with Japan, held at San Francisco September 4--8, 1951; the seventh session of the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, held at Ottawa, Canada, September 15-20, 1951, at which Greece and Turkey were admitted to membership; and a speech by Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, on the floor of the Senate on September 18, in which he called for increased allocations of funds for atomic development and production.

Q. I was wondering if you think, in view of all those things, that the prospects are a little bit more hopeful for peace?

THE PRESIDENT. There is a possibility, a stronger possibility than ever, I think, if we stick to our knitting and go ahead with the defense program.

Q. Possibility of what, sir? I didn't catch--

THE PRESIDENT. Peace.

Q. If we stick to our what?

THE PRESIDENT. Our knitting.

Q. What was that last--

THE PRESIDENT. That's an old Missouri phrase. And go ahead with the defense program.

What did you want to ask me? You got up just as he did.

[3.] Q. I was just working--I tell you-I do have a question. Would you mind saying if you are considering Mayor Fletcher Bowron of Los Angeles for a Federal judgeship?

THE PRESIDENT. His name hasn't come up to me.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, would it be correct to infer from what you have just said about Russia, that in the future we will place our reliance on force rather than diplomacy in dealing with Russia?

THE PRESIDENT. Under the circumstances it is necessary. And I dislike it very much. That is what we organized the United Nations for--was to argue these things out without the use of force--but it has become impossible. Korea is the example.

Q. Could we have that answer repeated, Mr. President ? [The President's answer was read by the White House Official Reporter]

THE PRESIDENT. I can name you several examples if you want them: Greece, Turkey, Korea, and Berlin. Trieste in the beginning.

Q. Mr. President, when you speak of the use of force, you are referring in a general way to all the areas of disagreement?

THE PRESIDENT. To our ability to meet force with force. That is all we are aiming at. We don't want to misuse that force. Our idea is a free and happy world. That is what we are going to continue to fight for.

Q. The other fellow has to use the force first?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. That is what brought on the Korean thing.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you consider the proposals made by Senator McMahon either practical or desirable?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, where do all the truce negotiations in Korea fit into this picture?

THE PRESIDENT. They were requested by the opposition, and we are willing to put forth every effort possible to get a peaceful solution without killing any more people. That's the why and wherefore for it.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Lehman of New York made a statement to the Senate last Friday, pointing out that there are apparent conflicts in the testimony of Louis Budenz 4 before the McCarran committee, and his testimony last year to the Tydings committee. And Senator Lehman suggests there should be a further investigation of this apparent conflict, and I was wondering if you agree with the Senator that there should be a further investigation ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am always in favor of getting the truth in these investigations, and I hope that they will go ahead and try to get the truth.

4 Newspaperman and former member of the Communist Party who testified before several congressional committees on the Communist attempt to infiltrate the United States Government.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, Ed Flynn 5 said yesterday you can beat anybody next year. Do you agree with him ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I am happy to have Mr. Flynn's opinion, because I think he is a very able political prognosticator-[ laughter ]--but I have no comment to make on your question. [More laughter]

5Edward I. Flynn, chairman of the Democratic County Committee of Bronx County, New York City.

Q. The last part was drowned out.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on the question.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, I read in the afternoon newspaper yesterday in Washington, that Ambassador O'Dwyer is doing a great job in Mexico, and he wished more than anything else to have a picture of you. I wonder if he can get it?

THE PRESIDENT. He has one. [Laughter] Gave it to him on his first appointment, as I do all the ambassadors.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, sir, has the testimony on the American Lithofold hearings on the Hill changed your opinion as to the propriety of Mr. Boyle 6 remaining chairman?

THE PRESIDENT. Now, I don't feel like commenting on the operations of the committee until they get through. Then I will give you all the comments you want.

6William M. Boyle, Jr., chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the Senate committee's action on the Illinois judgeships?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no comment. I appointed those judges, and I am the appointive power.

Q. You are what ?

THE PRESIDENT. I appointed the judges, and I have the appointive power. The Senate has a right to confirm or reject the appointments. They have not rejected them. They have just refused to report them out. 7

7 See Item 165 [8].

[12.] Q. Mr. President, in 1947 the United States sponsored a United Nations resolution for the extradition of war criminals. Recently there was discovered in California a Nazi war criminal named Artukovic, and Jewish organizations maintained that he was responsible for the death of many thousands of people in the death camps in Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslavs have asked for his extradition. Could you tell us what you might think about this thing? Also, sir, whether you believe we should act in accordance with the United Nations resolution? 8

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about the proposition, therefore I can't comment on it.

8 Dr. Andrija Artukovic, government official in Croatia during World War II, was arrested in California and held until September 19, 1951, when he was released on $50,000 bail. On July 14, 1952, he was freed by a Federal court which denied the Yugoslav request for extradition, stating that there was no treaty covering the case.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, reverting to the Illinois judges, isn't refusal by a judiciary committee to report either favorably or unfavorably-in other words, no report at all-isn't that about equal to no action at all in the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. That is not a rejection.

Q. Well, are you expecting further action by the committee ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, no. I don't expect further action by that committee.

Q. I beg your pardon, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't expect further action by the committee.

Q. Well, do you intend to send other nominations ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. I am satisfied with the ones I sent.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you intend to run for the Presidency again next year? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. You will be informed in plenty of time what my program will be for next year. But I am not ready to tell you now. I told you once before: I know what I am going to do, but I am not going to tell you. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, what is "plenty of time"?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, some time before the convention meets.

Q. Before the Democratic?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. That's the one I am interested in. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, why are you interested?

THE PRESIDENT. Every good Democrat ought to be interested in the platform of his committee.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you think it is significant that Senator Sparkman said today that the only one who was asked to testify at the hearings on Ambassador Jessup's position as a delegate to the United Nations was Senator McCarthy?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand it. What are you trying to get at ?

Q. Senator Sparkman, who heads the Senate committee on the hearings on Ambassador Jessup's position as a delegate to the United Nations, said today that the only one who was asked to testify was Senator McCarthy.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is for the committee to decide.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, I don't know whether this is outside your idea or not, but do you think it is all right for the national chairman to contact Government agencies in behalf of--

THE PRESIDENT. What's a chairman of the national committee for?

Q. To run a campaign.

THE PRESIDENT. What does the chairman of the National Democratic Committee do but be kind to people who come to town, or want introductions? That's a part of the job of the Democratic national chairman. It has been carried out by every one that has ever been there. It is not right for him, though, to take fees for operations of that kind. There is a distinction and a difference.

Q. Would that apply to all employees and officials of the national committee?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it would.

Q. Even volunteer workers ?

THE PRESIDENT. Even these volunteer workers.

Q. They shouldn't take fees?

THE PRESIDENT. No sir.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I am still puzzled about this judge situation.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see how you can be puzzled.

Q. Well, it seems that there is an impasse created here that

THE PRESIDENT. I have done my part. I didn't create the impasse.

Q. Well, the Senate has.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, all right. Let the Senate take the responsibility, or at least the Senate committee, that is. The Senate has not acted--as I told you.

Q. Well, do you expect the Senate to act?

THE PRESIDENT. Not unless the committee makes a report. You see, it takes two-thirds to discharge a committee in the Senate.

Q. That's true.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, I don't want to do any wrong to a fellow Missourian, so I would like to ask on Mr. Brandt's 9 question on those volunteer workers, Mr. Young 10 testified that at no time had he ever attempted to help anyone except to inquire the status of things, other than the two companies--Lustron and Jacobs--that he represented on a salary basis. Now, do you approve of a volunteer worker taking a regular employment from companies doing business in Washington?

9 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

10 E. Merl Young, former examiner for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think any person who is connected with the Democratic National Committee, be he a volunteer or otherwise, has any business taking fees from anybody for what he does for them as a member of the national committee.

Q. Mr. President, is it your impression that Mr. Boyle did take a fee?

THE PRESIDENT. No. My impression is that he did not. And I have got his word for it. And I believe it.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, the politicoes have been saying lately that irrespective of all these investigations that might impair the Democratic chances in 1952, that they never throw a party out of power when the country is prosperous. Do you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I agree with that.

Q. Very hopeful?

THE PRESIDENT. Here is what the difficulty is. I can give you a little lecture on politics.

There are no issues on which these people can attack the administration. The country is prosperous. We are carrying out a foreign policy which we think will be successful. We are doing everything we possibly can to keep the country on an even keel.

Now, when the opposition has no issues on which to fight, their next step is misrepresentation and smear. And that is what is going on.

Q. Well, Mr. President, do you think that this is an authentic prosperity when it is based partly on war production, partly on deficit financing?

THE PRESIDENT. It is based on neither one. It is based on neither one. That is one of your own impressions that you are putting out.

Q. I am asking you.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am answering you.

Q. Yes sir.

THE PRESIDENT. For the 5 years that I have been President, there has been a net surplus of $8 billion. That is not deficit financing. And this defense program has not yet made its impact on the economy.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, could you define the attitude of the two parties towards deficit financing?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they are about the same, if I remember my history. And when it is necessary to meet a situation, it has to be met. The tail end of an administration which ended in 1932, I think, ran in the red pretty regularly. Then, when the emergency had to be met, the means to meet it were in the hands of the President of the United States, and he took advantage of them and took the country out of the hole.

Q. I meant at the present time, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have never been for deficit financing, and I haven't had deficit financing. Read the record.

Q. Mr. President, you will have, in the next couple of years.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I will, if they don't give me the tax bill to meet it.

Q. Tax bills--[ Inaudible ]--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, I can't. That's the reason I asked for it.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, when you say the opposition resorts to smears in place of issues, would you include in the smears the work of the Fulbright committee and the Hoey committee?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever there is misrepresentation, there's a smear.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, you said the country being prosperous, and so forth, is there any occasion to revive the New Deal legislation such as the Brannan plan, and Government aid to various projects--

THE PRESIDENT. I will give you that in the Democratic platform, when we go to write it.

Q. Are you going to direct the writing of the platform?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to help. [Laughter] I always help. I have been helping ever since I was--oh--it has been 30 years that I have been helping to give the Democrats the right issues to win with the people. And I have been pretty successful at it.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, any more ideas about a whistle-stop tour?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Not ready yet.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventy-ninth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 20, 1951.

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/230803

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