Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 13, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements for you today, but I will try to answer questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering seizure of the soft coal industry?


[2.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering giving Mr. Olds a recess appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not. We can't give a man a recess appointment when he is rejected by the Senate. Didn't you know that?

Q. It was done once, sir, I think.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember, if it was. Not since I have been in the Senate.

Q. Last week you told us this confirmation was a party matter. I wonder if you would go into the reasoning on that some more?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it is necessary, Tony.1 You had plenty of columns' written on it. [Laughter]

1Anthony H. Leviero of the New York Times.

Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you could--

Q. We didn't hear that.

Q. Mr. President, what was that?

THE PRESIDENT. Hey--wait a minute-take your time. [Laughter]

Q.--I wonder if you could tell us what you think of what the Senate did to Mr. Olds?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they didn't get the last question. He asked me if I had any further comment to make on the political nature of the Olds appointment, and I said I had none to make.

Q. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. What did you say now, Smitty? 2

2 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. Generally, what do you think of what the Senate did to Mr. Olds?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it was a bad thing.

Q. Have you another nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at present.

Q. Mr. President, to what do you attribute the turning down of the nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the best thing you could do is to read the record. Why don't you read the speeches that were made, and then you can get all the reasons.

Q. We couldn't hear that?

THE PRESIDENT. The reason you can' t hear is because our big rug had to be taken to the cleaners. Somebody in this conference had spilled ink all over it and we couldn't get it out. That's the reason you can't hear. I will do the best I can.

Q. Mr. President, is this rejection of Olds on a par with the Mon Wallgren matter, or do you see a different picture?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the same. Not the same. The best way to find out about the situation is to read the record. Just read the Congressional Record for the day of the nonconfirmation and you will get all the facts.

Q. Mr. President, the reason is the power lobby--

THE PRESIDENT. I think you had better read the record.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, when are you going to name the six Washington Federal judgeships?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope I will be able to name them before Congress adjourns.

Q. Mr. President, does that go for New York?

THE PRESIDENT. I am trying to get ready on New York.

Q. On what, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I am trying to get ready on the New York judgeships. Somebody wanted to know when I was going to name the six Federal judgeships.

I said that I would like to get ready on it before Congress adjourns. The gentleman wanted to know if that goes for New York, and I said I am doing the best I can.

Q. And the District of Columbia?

THE PRESIDENT. The District of Columbia was the first question.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, you spoke of Congress adjourning. When do you think it will adjourn?

THE PRESIDENT. I am in no position to say when the Congress will adjourn. That is their privilege. When they come to the end of the business that they feel that they can transact, I am sure they will pass a resolution to adjourn.

[4.] Q. Are you impressed, sir, with the testimony of the naval officers3 who have been--

THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not comment on that at this time.

3See "Hearings Before the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, on the National Defense Program--Unification and Strategy" (Government Printing Office, 1949, 639 pp.). The hearings were held in Washington from October 6-21, 1949.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask one more question?


[5.] Q. Is there a possibility that Mon Wallgren will receive a recess appointment?

THE PRESIDENT, I can't comment on that.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you define the defense policy--

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I do. I defined it in the last budget.

[7.] Q. Could you say, sir, whether the admirals and generals are now dictating our defense policy or is it up to the Commander in Chief and civilian Secretaries?

THE PRESIDENT. It is up to the Commander in Chief and the civilian Secretaries, on the advice of the Chiefs of Staff.

[8.] Q. On several occasions recently, sir, you have said that your own political philosophy and that of the administration is based on the Sermon on the Mount.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Would you care to expand, sir, on that theme and point out in what way--

THE PRESIDENT. My best advice to you is to turn to the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of the Gospel according to St. Matthew in the King James translation, and read it very carefully, and you will find out without any comment from me. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, some of us are not so familiar with the Bible. Is that the fifth, sixth, and seventh--

THE PRESIDENT. Fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the King James version. Read those three chapters--won't take you but 20 minutes.

Q. Mr. President, we can't hear.

THE PRESIDENT. The Sermon on the Mount--talking about the Sermon on the Mount and my political philosophy. I advised him to read the Sermon on the Mount.

Q. Do you agree with the Sermon on the Mount?

THE PRESIDENT. I do. I am in complete agreement with it.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, could you comment on the suggestion being made in a number of newspapers that you create a department of ethics with Cabinet rank against communistic atheism?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what you are talking about. I don't think ethics has anything to do with communism. I know the Communists have no ethics.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, could you say anything about your personal impressions of Prime Minister Nehru?

THE PRESIDENT. I think very highly of him. He made a very profound impression on me. I think he is a fine gentleman. I think he is earnestly trying to be a good public servant.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, when are you going to New York?

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon ?

Q. Have any arrangements yet been made to go to New York?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going there on the 24th to lay the cornerstone of the United Nations building.

Q. Mr. President, will you speak at that time for Mr. Lehman?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to lay the cornerstone of the United Nations building. It will not be a political speech.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to visit South Carolina after Congress goes home?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been considering it.

Q. How about Boston, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been considering that one, too.

Q. Which was that one, sir?


[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you see any reason for changing the fundamentals of the American defense policy at this moment?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not,

[14.] Q. Mr. President, how long do you think the big steel strike and the coal strike will go on without some action by yourself?

THE PRESIDENT. Your guess is as good as mine.

Q. How long could it go, Mr. President, without any serious damage to the national economy?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I say your guess is as good as mine. We will have to wait until the time comes.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, it has been reported that you are opposed to flexible price supports in the Senate bill. Can you tell us what--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on the pending bill. I will comment on it when it comes up to me for signature.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, this week we received this summary of the legislative program.4 I wonder if you would comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think that speaks for itself. That's the reason I handed it to you for your information. Of course, there will be a great many more public laws added to that, before the Congress adjourns.

4 A detailed summary of the status of legislation relating to recommendations of the President, 81st Congress, 1st session, was released by the White House on October 10.

I want you to understand that the reason I have to raise my voice is because those gentlemen can't hear, and not because I am exasperated. [Laughter]

[17.] Q. Going back to the New York situation, leaving aside the United Nations day, do you expect to make a political speech before election day up there, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not anticipating it.

Q. The reports indicate you won't have to, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they say that we are in such a good fix up there, it won't be necessary. [Laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, Admiral Denfeld said this afternoon that there was nothing wrong with unification except the administration of it?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that. I haven't read Admiral Denfeld's testimony, and I couldn't comment on it if I had read Admiral Denfeld's testimony.5

5Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee earlier in the day, Adm. Louis E. Denfeld, Chief of Naval Operations, asserted that Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson was proceeding against "the spirit and concept" of the unification law.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, the conferees on the military appropriations bill are locked up again this afternoon on the question of 58 air groups versus 48 air groups. How do you hope that is solved?

THE PRESIDENT. I told the Senators who called on me that I had asked for 48 air groups. That is what I wanted.

Q. Mr. President, Admirals Radford and Orstie both have said that the Air Force plan for strategic atomic warfare is immoral.6 Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

6Adm. Arthur W. Radford appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on October 7. In his statement he contended that the B-36 had been "a billion-dollar blunder," and that a war fought by the "atomic blitz" technique of saturation bombing would be "morally reprehensible" to the American people.

Rear Adm. Ralph A. Ofstie testified before the Committee on October 11. In his statement he said that "strategic air warfare, as practiced in the past and as proposed for the future, is militarily unsound and of limited effect, is morally wrong, and is decidedly harmful to the stability of a post-war world."

Q. Mr. President, in that connection, Representatives Kennedy and Javits have asked some questions about being prepared in a civilian way for atomic warfare?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. Mr. President, as one who knows something about the atomic bomb, would you--do you think you could escape without serious injury if you stood at one end of the National Airport if a bomb exploded at the other?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I have never been on the receiving end of one of those bombs, so I couldn't comment very well intelligently.

Q. Mr. President, could you tell us which end of the airport to stand on? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, I want to take up this coal business just once more?


Q. Do you have any authority now for seizure, or have you investigated?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that will have to be investigated, if it becomes necessary. I can't answer that question offhand.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, do you approve the Senate committee's ending its five percent investigation?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think they ever had an intelligent investigation, so there was no sense continuing it.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, it was announced a few hours ago that you would see Prime Minister Nehru this afternoon?

THE PRESIDENT. He is coming in to pay an official call on me, as every visiting head of a state does when he goes to leave the town.

Q. No specific subject?

THE PRESIDENT. No specific subject.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, I have one more of these questions on the Navajos and Hopis,7 I guess that is--the Indian aid bill. Has that reached you yet?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on it. I don't know what it contains. It will come up to me before long, and then I will comment on it, if it is necessary.

7 See Item 233.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to make another stab at the farm bill question?


Q. Do you think it is possible for the conference committee to make legislation out of the Gore bill or the Anderson bill?

THE PRESIDENT. It is my opinion that the conference committee can write an acceptable bill. It may not be exactly what anybody wants, but that is the reason they have the conference.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and first news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 13, 1949.

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/230196

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