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Senator Wayne Morse

Senator Wayne Morse, Republican turned Democrat from Oregon, talks to Wallace about his criticisms of the Eisenhower Administration, Barry Goldwater, Raymond Moley, Richard Nixon, Arthur Miller, and Joseph McCarthy.

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Guest: Senator Wayne Morse

TREYZ: I am Oliver Treyz, Vice President in charge of The American Broadcasting Company, Television Network. Last Sunday night something most unfortunate, unexpected and profoundly regrettable occurred on The Mike Wallace Interview program while Mr. Wallace was questioning Mickey Cohen. The Mike Wallace program presents an unrehearsed live news interview, with well-known personalities from all walks of life. Now, the spontaneous nature of these interviews precludes our network from having advance knowledge of what actually will be said during the program. Leonard Goldenson, our president, joins me most earnestly in stating that the American Broadcasting Company retracts and withdraws in full all statements made on last Sunday’s Mike Wallace Interview program concerning the Los Angeles City government, and specifically Police Chief William H. Parker, Captain James Hamilton, of the Department Intelligence Squad, former Mayer Fletcher Bowron, and former Police Chief Clarence B. Horrell. The American Broadcasting Company wants to emphasize that these statements in no way represented its attitudes or beliefs. For, the American Broadcasting Company knows of no facts which reflect upon the official and personal reputation of these gentlemen, or upon their integrity and loyalty to the highest ethics of law and law enforcement. The American Broadcasting Company deeply regrets the wholly unjustified statements made on this unrehearsed program, and offers its most sincere apologies to Police Chief Parker, Captain Hamilton, Judge Bowron, C. B. Horrell, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the citizens of Los Angeles for any embarrassment or personal distress that has resulted from the broadcasting of that interview. To the sponsor of this program, Philip Morris, Incorporated, and its advertising agency, N. W. Ayer & Son, Inc. who do not have any control over program content, but who have authorized us to state that they join us in the foregoing statement, we also offer our sincere regrets for the embarrassment that last week’s broadcast has caused them. Thank you.

WALLACE: Good evening: I’m Mike Wallace. I join sincerely and earnestly in the statement of retraction and apology the Mr. Treyz has just made with regard to those named during my interview with Mickey Cohen last Sunday night.

ANNCR: New Philip Morris, probably the best natural smoke you ever tasted…presents … The Mike Wallace Interview.

WALLACE: Tonight we go after the story of the most controversial man in the United States Senate. His opinions which you’ll hear in a moment are his own, and not necessarily the American Broadcasting Company’s, the sponsor’s Philip Morris, or my own. You see him there, behind me. He is the Republican turned Democrat from Oregon, Wayne Morse, who last week charged that President Eisenhower was “the same kind of immoralist as teamster boss Dave Beck.” Why did the Senator make that charge? How does he answer the Republican counterattack, that Morse’s entire career is riddled with contradictory charges and deception? These stories, in just one minute.


WALLACE: And now, to our story. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, has made headlines since 1944, first as a Republican attacking the Democrats, now as a Democrat taking off on the Republicans. Since he turned on the Republicans back in ’52, he’s been called President Eisenhower’s worst enemy in the senate. Last week he seemed to earn that title with a vengeance.

WALLACE: In a speech in Detroit, Senator Morse criticized the administration’s domestic policies, and called the President and teamster union boss, Dave Beck, two of the same kind of immoralists. He repeated that attack in the Senate last Wednesday. Let’s try to find out among other things if the Senator believes that is responsible politicking. Senator, first of all, let me ask you this, about your charge of political immorality. In your own words, Dave Beck is suspected of either embezzling or stealing about $300,000 in union funds. He may face a criminal indictment and if convicted, he could be sent to jail. So much for Mr. Beck. Now, few Republicans dispute your right to criticize the President, but they have objected to the way that you did it. Senator Styles Bridges, of New Hampshire says: “It is a most shocking thing to compare the President of the United States with a man who has pleaded the fifth amendment more than 200 times when asked about his handling of union funds for his own benefit.” What about that? How, why did you get yourself involved with that kind of thing?

MORSE: Well Mike, let’s get the record straight first as to what I said because you have quoted what you read in the newspapers, and not what I said in the Detroit speech, or what I said on the floor of the Senate. Now, what I said in the Senate on April 29t, what I said in Detroit, what I repeated in the Senate the other day is this: let me make perfectly clear that I never said that President Eisenhower and Dave Beck were the same kind immoralists. What I did say, was that, in my book of political ethics, I see no difference in principle between a Dave Beck putting his hands into the pockets of the rank and file of teamsters in this country and taking out thousands of dollars of interest-free money which amounts, of course, to denying the teamsters the interest income on their money they ought to have, and an Eisenhower administration headed by a President that puts its hands into the pockets of the taxpayers of this country, and turns over to the Idaho Power Company millions of dollars of interest-free money, which constitutes in essence, taking from the taxpayers of this country a giveaway of millions of dollars of interest money belonging to the taxpayers of the country.

WALLACE: Essentially…

MORSE: Let me finish the statement. Then I went on, Mike, to point out that of course, the taxpayers get hit with what amounts to sort of a two-barreled shotgun approach on this. They not only lose the interest that this administration has given to the Idaho Power Company, but they have to pay interest on money that the administration has to buy for the Treasury, that they wouldn’t have to… I mean… has to borrow from the Treasury, that they wouldn’t have had to borrow if they hadn’t given these millions away to the Idaho Power Company. The, I said, in my book that’s political immorality. And then I proceeded to document it on the floor of the Senate by saying, and that’s been the chief characteristic of the Eisenhower administration since inauguration day in 1953.

WALLACE: And then you went on to document what you believe the other instances … or were other instances of immorality, of the Eisenhower administration. I read the record … I read the Congressional Record, but what I’d like to ask is this, though essentially you did compare the immorality, what you called the immorality of Dave Beck to the immorality of the Eisenhower administration.

MORSE: The immorality of Dave Beck taking an interest free loan away from the teamsters, and the immorality of this administration taking interest free loan away from the taxpayers of this country.

WALLACE: I would like you to square if you will, your comparison of the President of the United States with a statement that was made on the floor of the Senate back on March 18, 1949 by you, sir, in answer to an attack that was made upon you by Wisconsin Senator, Alexander Wiley. You said as follows: “I would say to the Senator from Wisconsin, that he needs to learn the lesson that calling either a proposition or its advocate names, proves nothing against the proposition or the advocate.

MORSE: And I repeat that statement tonight, but you see, when I characterize the Eisenhower administration as an administration of great political immorality, I document it, and I’m perfectly willing to document it on this program. But let me make perfectly clear here, you see, that I think there’s going on in this country, among too many people, the idea that a President can be put upon a pedestal and you must not criticize him. As I said on the floor of the Senate, have we gone so far down the road of a police state in America, that a President shall not be subject to criticism if an elected official of a free people believes his record deserves criticism, and you need to describe it for what it is.

WALLACE: Let’s discuss immorality.

MORSE: One moment. In Russia, I realize you’re put in jail or you’re liquidated if you criticize the head of state, but I hope the time does never come in this country that the Senate of the United States will not remain that Parliamentary body in which an elected official can tell the American people a criticism of a President or anybody else that he thinks ought to be criticized.

WALLACE: No one really, none of the Senators – and I read the record – suggested that the President should be above and beyond criticism. They rather, took issue with what they called the manner in which you did it, and the words poor taste were used many times, but let’s discuss immorality …

MORSE: As a point of order, and some of them thought I ought to be subject to a resolution of censure, and I invited them to introduce the resolution of censure because there wasn’t a Republican that would vote for it if it were offered.

WALLACE: Let’s discuss immorality for just a moment, and the motives behind immorality. Now, Dave Beck has been accused of taking union funds. This would obviously be, and you said, it here tonight, for his own financial gain if he has done it. Now, how, in your opinion, well … let’s put it this way: what in the world does President Eisenhower stand to gain by what you claim is his political immorality? What is his motive? Is it money? Is it power?

MORSE: I want to be very frank about that: I think a good many of the giveaways and handouts that the Eisenhower Administration has given to big business, in giving to men that have made heavy campaign contributions to this administration because this administration has been dominated by American big business and what the American people ought to stop and realize is that what has this administration done against the taxpayer’s interest in this matter of big business handouts and that’s what I discussed on the floor of the Senate the other day.

WALLACE: You’re then saying that President Eisenhower is in the position of paying off campaign contributors…

MORSE: I’m saying the effect is that his favoritism to American big business is one of the reasons that American big business has been so strong in supporting him and I want to say that I think the President doesn’t fully realize what he’s doing. I do not think that the advisers of the President, for example, have told him what the basis for the Accelerated Tax Amortization Law is. I doubt very much if until this issue arose that the President realized that the Tax Amortization Bill was passed not to help private utilities, not to help industries that are going to be going concerns after the war – read the Congressional debate when the bill is passed. The reason for the fast tax write off was to encourage industry to build war plants that would be of little value when the war was over. That’s the point I make, and when President Eisenhower lets these millions of giveaway and interest free loans go to private utilities, he’s not supporting what was done when the bill was passed; he is giving the taxpayer’s money to going concerns.

WALLACE: Knowingly to pay off campaign contributors?

MORSE: Oh, I’m not saying to pay off campaign contributors. I’m saying the interesting thing is his favoritism; his acts as far as his Administration are concerned of political immorality have accrued to the benefit of American big business.

WALLACE: In the Senate last Wednesday, Senator, you said as follows: You said, “this administration is honeycombed with political immorality.” End quote, Wayne Morse. You said this as a Democrat. When you were a Republican you said the following: The Democratic Administration is honeycombed with corruption and malfeasance in office. Same message, virtually the same words. Different parties.

MORSE: And I proved it to the President at that time and what did the President at that time do? In December 1951 he offered me the Attorney General of the United States to help clean up some corruption that had crept into his Administration. Quite a difference, isn’t it?

WALLACE: Well, my question, the question I’d like to put to you is the one that Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona asked on the floor of the Senate. He asked you, he said, “what does it take to please the senior Senator from Oregon?”

MORSE: Just clean government.

WALLACE: Wait just a second, please sir. “He has gone through two Presidents and he’s unhappy; he’s run through two parties and he’s unhappy. What does it take to please the senior Senator?”

MORSE: Just clean government and I’m going to continue to raise this voice for clean government whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican in power, if I think under that Administration there are evidences of injustices and unclean government; and I take you back to the Truman Administration and I say to the great credit of President Truman when he became aware that there was some corruption that had crept into his government he proceeded at once to take the steps to see to it that it was cleaned up, and that’s why he called me down and said he wanted an Independent to take over the Attorney-Generalship. He said he didn’t think we’d find very much corruption, but to the extent that there was anything he wanted it cleaned out of his government.

WALLACE: And why didn’t you take over the Attorney Generalship?

MORSE: Because I explained to the President that I thought the greatest service I could perform was in the Senate of the United States.

WALLACE: Let’s touch on just one more thing that you said in the Senate last Wednesday. After more than a dozen Republican Senators had criticized your attack on the President, you said: “I may say facetiously that it’s rather interesting to note so many Republicans rallying around the President on the floor of the Senate in response to what they consider to be a personal attack upon him.” And then you went on: “I’m always interested, however, in the differences in the discussions in the cloakrooms by Republicans abut Eisenhower, and those on the floor of the Senate.” Now what do Republican Senators say about Mr. Eisenhower in the Senate cloakroom that they don’t say on the floor?

MORSE: Mike, let me make clear to you I’m not going to violate any confidences of my colleagues on this program in respect to what they say in the cloakroom, but I want to tell you that there are many of them not complimentary of the President many times in the cloakroom and the interesting think was that some of those who were criticizing me on the floor of the Senate and rallying to the President, because I had criticized his conduct in this rapid tax write off were men that in the cloakroom in some instances had made some pretty bitter criticisms of the President – but that’s their privilege.

WALLACE: Criticisms on what score?

MORSE: On just the kind of scores I’ve criticized him for: shocked at his reactionary policy; shocked he’s given these handouts to American big business.

WALLACE: Of course a good many of the Senators whom he would like to support him are not supporting him as much as he would like to be supported in the case of the budget, sir.

MORSE: Well, that’s of course his problem with those Republican Senators. The interesting thing is that when it comes to a voting record on those things that he has proposed that I’m satisfied are in the public interest he hasn’t’ had anybody to support him any harder than I have in the Senate or speak out more strongly in support of his sound programs; but I will not go along with a President, for example, as I documented on the floor of the Senate, that appoints a Talbot Secretary of the Air Force and then when we show up his conflict of interest is responsible to see to it that he gets the highest civilian medal that can be given to a man who works in the Pentagon building … when what he ought to have done – as I said the other day – he ought to have given him a chisel, not a medal.

WALLACE: Senator Morse, you say you told President Truman you felt you could be more valuable in the Senate than as Attorney General – is that correct, sir?

MORSE: That’s correct.

WALLACE: Then I’d like your answer to this criticism of Wayne Morse by political analyst Raymond Moley in Newsweek magazine back in October of last year. Mr. Moley wrote of what he called “the utter sterility of Senator Morse” and his “ineffectiveness as a representative and a statesman.” And Moley added, “the net for Oregon after 12 years has been words, more words, and scores of driveling resolutions and bills which have come to nothing, with the possible exception of a 1945 World Court Resolution, Morse has earned credit for no important legislation. What about that, sir?

MORSE: Well, Mike, let me say good naturedly, first, I can’t imagine anything that would concern me less that Raymond Moley’s views on anything, particularly his views on me; and I know him pretty well, because he is a very able spokesman for the reactionary big business forces of this country. But in my campaign last fall, the people of Oregon answered Raymond Moley, because I ran on the campaign platform, “he gets things done for Oregon” and we documented throughout the campaign the record of 12 years of dedicated service to the people of Oregon in connection with project after project, appropriation after appropriation, service for hundreds and hundreds of individuals in respect to their business with the federal government. The people answered the Raymond Moleys and they answered them by giving me a resounding majority vote on November 6, and I just dismissed the Raymond Moleys because I know that I can expect if you seek to stand out and exercise an honest independence of judgment, you can expect the predatory forces of this country to try to get you, and they have been trying ever since I have been in the Senate; but I will leave my case rest with the people of my state.

WALLACE: Let’s turn now for a minute or two to the current jostling for power within the Republican party with an eye toward the 1960 elections, Vice-President Nixon being a leading contender. I’d like to ask you what you think of him as a contender for the Presidency and I ask that, having in mind the charge made by some Republicans that one of the reasons that your quit their party was because Mr. Nixon was nominated to run with Ike back in 1952.

MORSE: Well, Mike, I think it is up to the Republicans to pick the candidate in 1960, and if they pick Nixon in 1960, I’ll campaign across the country against him. I think he is a very able representative of reactionary forces in this country; he is an ultra-conservative, and, of course, if you want to understand my political philosophy, here is the basis tenet: I think the job of a United States Senator is to seek to translate into legislation, values that promote the welfare of people because I taught constitutional law and advanced courses in legislation for many years, and I tried to get my students to see that the keystone of the constitution is the general welfare clause, and the wealth of American is its people, not its materialism; and my job as a Senator is to try to be a pacemaker in proposing legislation that will advance the interests of people, and in my opinion, Nixon, on the other hand, represents a political philosophy that represents primarily the vested interests of this country.

WALLACE: In your opinion, then, you feel that you feel differently from a conservative, let’s say, about human beings, about life, about good and bad. Is there that much of a palpable difference?

MORSE: I think the legislative record of the Liberals and Conservatives proves the point. Just take my voting record and compare it with the voting record of the reactionaries in the Senate of the United States and you see exactly what I mean.

WALLACE: Why did you get into the Republican Party under those circumstances in the first place? Was it only because you could get elected in Oregon only as –

MORSE: Not at all. That is part of the attack against me, Mike – I am used to that one too. I came up in Wisconsin as a Progressive Republican. I was brought up in the Bob LaFolette tradition. I went to Oregon as a Progressive Republican; I hoped we could liberalize the Republican party. I tried hard to do it, and when it was perfectly clear they were out to destroy me, I just left them and I let all the people of the state, not just the Republicans, but all of the people of the state vote on my qualifications; and the result on November 6th was my re-election.

WALLACE: All right, now, Senator, in just a minute, as we have time, I’d like to get your opinion on two controversial issues: playwright Arthur Miller who was indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about communists he once knew, and the late Senator Joseph McCarthy whose record in the Senate bears a blot which some Senators want to remove; but which you insist remain there. We will get Senator Morse’s opinions on these issues in just one minute.


WALLACE: Now, Senator Morse, for your opinions on two controversial issues. First of all: playwright Arthur Miller. He was indicted for contempt of Congress because he refused to name the people he met at communist meetings 9 years ago. He told a House Un-American Activities Committee that he refused to name names on the grounds of conscience. How do you feel about this? Should a man face trial, as he has just done, and possibly jail for refusing on grounds of conscience to inform on others before a Congressional Committee?

MORSE: Well, the Arthur Miller case, Mike, it’s before the courts, and I am going to let it rest there. I am perfectly willing to let the judgment of the court determine that legal question. I know nothing about the evidence – I haven’t followed the case other than what we read in the newspaper. As to the Joe McCarthy case-

WALLACE: Let me state it to you in this fashion: you attacked proposals made in the Senate May 8 to wipe from the record books the Senate’s censure of the late Senator McCarthy – you said that expunging the censure of certain of Senator McCarthy’s actions would be “a great disservice to the history of the Senate.” Why would it be?

MORSE: Well, let me say what I said, Mike. I said it would be a great disservice to the Senator from Wisconsin, now dead, because he would not be there to defend himself. I pointed out that that is history and it ought to remain. The charge was made that we passed the McCarthy resolution in hysteria and emotionalism. I pointed out that we had passed it calmly, objectively, after a fair hearing and judiciously, and in my judgment rightly; but let me make very clear my position on the McCarthy case because I opposed the proposal to try McCarthy in connection with his conduct as a Senator and I took the position in the speech I made on it when I objected to the first resolution that came in. I said: we have no control over the Senator from Wisconsin as a Senator, only the people of Wisconsin have control over him. But our power over him is limited to his conduct as an agent of the Senate, and he is an agent of the Senate when he carries out the chairmanship work of a committee, and therefore the bill of particulars I drafted dealt entirely with McCarthy’s conduct as a chairman of a committee, and it is interesting to note that the final action was really taken upon that conduct. And, of course, I shall vote against expunging that from the record because that’s the official record of the Senate, and I want history to be the judge of it. And I made one other point in my speech on McCarthy the other day – I said: remember when God puts His hand on a colleague here in the Senate, that colleague then stands before God’s bar for judgment, and the Senate of the United States should leave Senator McCarthy before the throne of God and leave the record in the Senate stand.

WALLACE: After the Senator’s death, his fellow Republican from Wisconsin, Alexander Wiley, said as follows: he said, there is no one to doubt that McCarthy deeply loved his country and would have given his life for it. Do you doubt that, sir?

MORSE: I don’t think there is any question about it. Joe McCarthy certainly loved his country, but that doesn’t make his opinions right in regard to the procedures that he followed in his desire to protect what he thought was the best interest of his country; because in my judgment those procedures violated some pretty precious rights of freedom dear to all of us.

WALLACE: Two ten second opinions, and we’ll let you go, Senator. First, continued H-bomb tests, for or against?

MORSE: Why, I agree with Dr. Schweitzer. We owe it to future generations in our generation to stop this threat that is created by H-bombs, not only to the health of millions of people in parts of the world where we’re dropping these bombs when we’re not endangering Americans; but we’re endangering millions abroad, and we owe it to future generations of boys and girls that we stop the tests now and carry this fight to Russia by putting her on the spot and challenging her in the United Nations to follow our Christian example. This is a question of Christian morality as far as I’m concerned.

WALLACE: Thank you very much Senator Morse, for coming and spending this time with us here this evening.

MORSE: It’s been a pleasure.

WALLACE: Since 1944, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon has put personal convictions above party politics, at the cost of being called a political traitor. He deserted the Republican camp in 1952, and he now levels at his former comrades his most withering criticism. But, as his recent election as a Democrat proved, he is one politician that changed horses in the middle of the stream and made it to the other side. I’ll be back in a moment with a rundown on next week’s interview.


WALLACE: Next week we go after the story of Communism in the United States from the former boss of the Communist Party here. You see him behind me: he is Earl Browder. For 15 years the leader of the nearly a hundred thousand Communists, he was kicked out of the party after the second World War for preaching moderation toward capitalism. If you are curious to know what kind of man Earl Browder is, what he thinks of Communists and Conservatives, and how he can claim he is a good and loyal American when he refused to tell what he knows of Communists who have been pledged to overthrow the United States government by force and violence, we’ll go after these stories next Sunday. Until then, for Philip Morris, Mike Wallace, goodnight.