Texans George Nokes and Dolph Briscoe got Straight Talk from Truman on MacArthur

July 15, 2009

In 1951, former Texas legislators George Nokes and Dolph Briscoe were invited to the White House to meet then President Harry S. Truman during a visit to Washington, DC.  The meeting occured shortly after the President had discharged General Douglas MacArthur, hero of the Allies’ World War II victory against Japan in the Pacific Theater. That happened much later, of course, on April 11, 1951, during the Korean War when MacArthur commanded a United Nations force and publicly disagreed with Truman’s Korean War policy. It was years after the general has garnered wide acclaim throughout the nation, including honors bestowed during a speech to the Texas Legislature.

Nokes, today retired and a member of the “Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club” of prominent  used-to-bes at the Waterloo Ice House on West 38th Street,  remembers the conversation got around to MacArthur, and the President wasted no niceties in describing what took place. “I travelled all the way to Wake Island to meet with that (expletive). I told him very specifically not to cross the Yalu River (for fear China would come into the war)” the President said. “And before I got  home, he disregarded my order. So I fired the son-of-a-bitch. I pointed out that the Constitution says I am the Commander-in-Chief.”

Nokes says that when he and Governor Briscoe left the White House, they were encountered by a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter who asked them the inevitable question: “what did you and the President talk about?” “Oh, we couldn’t possibly talk about a private conversation in the White House,”  Nokes answered. “Except,”  he added, “I did tell him I supported his foreign policy.”  “You just made more news than you meant to,” the reporter replied, acccording to Nokes.

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