Today, Bruce Morton retired after spending 30 years at CBS and another 13 at CNN. His last appearance was on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. He turned in a report on the significance of the office of Vice President. At the end Wolf brought up Morton’s impending retirement. Transcript follows…
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, do vice presidents matter? They disagree.
MORTON: John Adams, George Washington’s VP called it the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived. Thomas Jefferson, Adams’ VP called it honorable and easy while the presidency was just a splendid misery. Of course, they matter when the president dies. Andrew Johnson mattered when John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln. Though he didn’t matter very successfully. He got impeached.
Harry Truman made tough decisions when Franklin Roosevelt died during World War II, dropped the atom bomb Roosevelt had never told him existed, backed NATO and the Marshall Plan. His decisions mostly turned out pretty well. Gerald Ford reassured a worried country when Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment over Watergate.
GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our long national nightmare is over.
MORTON: As vice presidents, they matter only if the president wants them to. John Nance Garner, Roosevelt’s VP, said the job wasn’t worth a picture of warm rhymes with spit.
STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: And that’s about the history of the vice presidency until recent days when presidents have chose to make something of them. And no one has made as much of the vice presidency as George W. Bush has made of his vice president.
MORTON: Other recent VPs have had specific tasks, Al Gore reorganizing and trying to shrink the federal government, for instance. But Cheney has been always in private a kind of first counselor among equals, not a rival of the president, but his principal adviser. Even if his aim at the weekend was unfortunate, it will probably take more than some birdshot to shake the president’s faith in his principle deputy — Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Bruce, thanks very much. And I’m very, very sad to say that was Bruce Morton’s last report for us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He’s retiring from CNN after 13 years at this network and almost 30 years at CBS News before that.
Bruce is a modest man. He certainly did not want us to make a fuss at all. But we couldn’t let this moment pass by without celebrating this truly talented journalist and his remarkable career. One of our colleagues likes to say that if there were a journalist hall of fame, Bruce Morton certainly would be in it.
Beyond his years of solid, hard news reporting, Bruce brings something very special to television journalism, a truly unique voice, smart and wry, with a perspective you could only get by covering politics for five decades. When we need a certain kind of piece we immediately know is Bruce material, Morton-esque, as many of us like to say right here.
That voice will be missed at CNN, here in THE SITUATION ROOM. It will be missed throughout the country. Bruce, we wish you well as you head into a new chapter of your life. But we hope though you’re moving on, you’ll come visit from time to time here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Bruce, good luck to you.
MORTON: Thank you, Wolf. Love to see you.
BLITZER: We will see you often