Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Barack Obama vs. Jimmy Carter: More Similar Than You'd Think?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," August 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Welcome back to Denver, Colorado.

We're joined by Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton University who has written an article in this week's edition of "Newsweek" Magazine.

Sean, let me ask you, today, former president Jimmy Carter came out and said or at least is quoted as saying that Senator McCain is milking his former status as a POW. Your article today about Senator Obama touches on the comparison between Senator Obama and President Carter. In part, what did you say and what did you mean?

SEAN WILENTZ, PRINCETON PROFESSOR OF HISTORY: There are many ways, several ways in which Barack Obama's candidacy, his rhetoric is more like Jimmy Carter's than any other Democratic president in recent memory.

He has talked about rejecting the old politics, attacking special interests and lobbyists, wearing his Christian ideals on his sleeve. All of that is very much Carteresque in many ways.

Watch Greta's interview

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any way, because the most successful Democratic president I think the Democrats would say is former President Clinton; is there any way he is Clintonesque?

WILENTZ: He came across that way in his speech tonight in some ways. He tried to in terms of squaring the circle, and saying you can have this and you can have that. The difference is, I think, President Clinton did something of a better idea, gave you a better idea how he was going to do, which is what you were saying before, how he was going to do the things that he said he was going to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things is the criticism that he lacks experience. When asked his supporters, they say he has good judgment. How do we measure judgment? How does history look at the judgment of presidential candidates? They keep saying that he has great judgment and voters need to figure out how to judge that.

WILENTZ: It is hard to judge judgment when you do not have a long record. Look, I am a Democratic liberal and I am all for him and I want to see him do well, and I think he is started to show something of that in the speech tonight.

There was more meat on the bones, if you will, about not simply his judgment but about where he wants to take the country. But you do have to see how a person reacts under fire.

Now, in some ways, you only find that out after a person is in the Oval Office; that is one of the gambles we take. You have to take a measured -- make your own measured judgment really about what the person is saying to you, is the person going to deliver on what you want, and does that show the kind of thought, the kind of appreciation of the fix that we're in as a country as well as what is good for us as a country to lead us forward.

It is harder to do without a record, there's no question about it, but you can tell something -- that's what a presidential campaign all about -- you can tell something about that from speeches like tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the next 60 plus days, which will be very exciting as we have two insurgent candidates, is there any advice that you have for him as he winds us down to November?

WILENTZ: For Barack Obama, I think just to build on what he started on tonight and to tell us more, particularly on foreign policy, actually. I think that that was not one of the strongest parts of the speech tonight.

Not just to say that he can be commander in chief, but to show that he knows something about the international situation, that he an overall idea of the international situation and he's going to act on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Alright, Sean Wilentz, history professor in another one of those colleges I couldn't get into, Princeton University. Anyway, a great article in "Newsweek" magazine. Thank you Sean.

And we'll be right back, we're live in Denver, Colorado.


Content and Programming Copyright 2008 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC (www.ascllc.net), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and ASC LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.