• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: The President’s Week, Oct. 31, 1949

3 minute read

When his good and wealthy friend, Willys-Overland Executive Ward Canaday, asked him to attend a businessman’s dinner party at the Statler Hotel last week,Harry Truman obligingly agreed. He was under the impression that no more than15 or 20 men would attend, and that he would not be obliged to speak. At dinnertime, he got into his dinner jacket, slipped quietly over to the hotel for a few hours of comfortable relaxation.

But when he arrived, accompanied only by his Secret Service shadows, he found himself at a formal banquet with 200 of the nation’s top industrialists. Seated around him were Gwilym A. Price, president of the Westinghouse Electric Corp., Motion Picture Czar Eric Johnston, Arthur A. Frank, chairman of the board of Standard Railway Equipment Mfg. Co., and dozens of other high-powered and high-placed big businessmen.

A Few Words. As speakers went into action, the President’s temper began to tug at its moorings; the evening was devoted to frequent criticism of his Administration, particularly in its operations in the fields of labor and taxation. When he was asked—three hours after his arrival —to say a few words of greeting, he rose with his face set and delivered some rough-edged criticism of his own.

He predicted that the budget for 1951 would run substantially higher than that for 1950, and repeated his press-conference opinion that higher taxes were necessary. He lectured industry heatedly for its attitude toward collective bargaining: “If you gentlemen won’t sit down with the people who work for you and work out your problems, there is something wrong with you.”

There was, he said, not a bit of sense in the world in either the steel or coal strikes; he castigated steel management for not accepting the report of his fact-finding board and criticized the union for standing on the letter of the board’s report. Having put his remarks off the record (they inevitably leaked), he went back to Blair House, apparently not displeased at having had an opportunity to speak his mind.

On to New York. This week again, he pleaded for peace and understanding among men—though in more general and gentler tones—when he laid the cornerstone of the half-finished new United Nations Building in Manhattan (see INTERNATIONAL). Then, after lunching with Mayor Bill O’Dwyer—a gesture which was calculated to help the mayor’s chances in the New York election two weeks hence—he went back to Washington.

Last week the President also: <| Nominated two prominent Democratic job-hunters to $15,000-a-year jobs: Washington’s former Governor Mon C. Wall-gren, an amiable, poker-playing crony, to the Federal Power Commission, and New York’s former Senator James M. Mead to the Federal Trade Commission. The Senate quickly confirmed them both, ^f Appointed Richard Feeney, 5, son of a White House employee, as an official White House squirrel feeder—providing i) the boy draws no pay, and 2) furnishes his own peanuts.

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