Harvard unveils new Obama course

Professor Charles Ogletree explains what his course on the President is all about


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Personal Story" segment tonight, a Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree will teach a new course at Harvard called "Understanding Obama". Professor Ogletree is a friend of the President. He joins from us Boston.

So first of all can I -- can I enroll in this, I'm an alumni. Can I get up there and get in this class? Continuing education?

CHARLES OGLETREE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW: We would love to have you Bill. We love to you, it's not a new class. I actually taught in 2008 before Obama was elected president. And I talked about Mitt Romney, I've talked about John Kennedy, I've talked about Obama in terms of religion. And ironically I've talked about Elizabeth Katy Stanton, who you may remember and Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas about race and gender issues in politics back in the 19th century.

O'REILLY: Now what is the point of the course, it's a small course. It's one credit. The point of it is to educate the students to what?

OGLETREE: It's not a course. It's a reading group. And so the students voluntarily decide if they want to take it. We offer several hundred of these reading groups on every subject under the sun. And the whole idea that students can decide to take it or not to take it. It's a voluntary course and I usually...

O'REILLY: Well ok but what are they going to get if they take it, what are they going to get out of it?

OGLETREE: I think they are going to get a sense about how race and how religion and how politics have influenced our country over the last three or four centuries.

O'REILLY: With the nexus being around President Obama. He's going to be...

OGLETREE: Oh it's... it's even earlier than that I mean, when I say three or four centuries. We're going to go back to Fredrick Douglas and Elizabeth Katy Stanton and Susan B. Anthony when they were debating whether the Constitution and the rights are applied to women and former slaves and, of course, the 15th amendment helped former slaves but not women. And... way back then...


O'REILLY: All right but if I go out there... am I going to understand President Obama after taking the course or the reading deal "Understanding Obama"? Am I going to understand him? Are you going to be able to...

OGLETREE: I think so.


OGLETREE: I think you're going to... you're going to understand that he's a multi-faceted guy. He has some flaws. He's had some successes and a lot of failures. And he is no different from anybody else who has held that office.

The reason it's unique is that you may remember that I was asked by Norman Groce back two years ago I think 2010 to write an essay for two reasons because they have a book that comes out every time there is a new election on a president who happens to be a lawyer.

And I knew Barack Obama as a student and he was the president elected in 2008. And I wrote this essay in 2009 and 2010 in the book.


O'REILLY: But you're admirer of the President. And you say quote...

OGLETREE: I'm more than an admirer Bill. I'm more than an admirer.

O'REILLY: Well, let me read you the quote and you can define for us.

OGLETREE: Yes sure.

O'REILLY: You say, "President Obama is a great man, he's done a great job. He's going to get re-elected in November. And no matter what people say he is going to be the best choice." Now, we respect that. You... you have analyzed him from your point of view. You feel that he is doing a very, very good job.

But when you come at it from that point of view, am I really going to understand the man because you really feel that he is a great man. And others feel the exact opposite.

OGLETREE: I think you will understand for this reason. And I have to tell you, I have received a lot of thoughtful emails. I will receive some tonight I'm sure after this show from people who watch Fox News and who support... people like Glenn Beck and Hannity and yourself. But that's fine.

But the reality is that if you read my book, "The Presumption of Guilt... The Arrest of Henry Lewis Gates Jr. and Race Class and Crime". I'm very critical of the fact that the President held... held the beer summit in 2009 and critical that he got involved in the local dispute between Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley.


OGLETREE: And I say that. And I say people criticize him.

O'REILLY: I'm not saying you're in the tank for him. I'm just saying you admire him.


O'REILLY: Do you... do you feel that I have been unfair to the President? I think I've been pretty fair with him.

OGLETREE: No at all. In fact you guys have had some good interviews.


O'REILLY: Yes. The two interviews we did were, were very, very instructive I think for the nation.


O'REILLY: I... I disagree with his big government vision. I mean, I think I come at it almost the same way that you come at it. You... you respect the President. And from your life experience you feel he is doing a very good job and he's overcome a lot to get where he is. And I... and I concur that he has overcome a tremendous amount to get in that position.

But his philosophy of government is expansive and is you know the government should be involved in social justice. And I just don't think that works and the country can't afford it. So...


OGLETREE: I respect -- I respect that.


O'REILLY: So -- but in the parameters of both of us, we're both respectful to Mr. Obama. And I think that's the way the dialogue and the debate has to go. We're respectful to him.

OGLETREE: But it's more than that.

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

OGLETREE: It's more than that. I'm respectful to Mitt Romney he was our governor. He did a good job. He was the one who made this state have healthcare before it became a national issue. And... and I believe in ObamaCares. I know you guys drop that "s" off. I believe in ObamaCares because I think of the millions of people who are pre-existing mental and physical challenges and they will get treatment under the healthcare plan.

And when this course is taught in 2013... like I said I've taught in 2008 before he was President... it will reflect on how the Supreme Court decides healthcare. It will reflect how they decide the issue of immigration.


O'REILLY: Oh have to, absolutely. And if he lose this...

OGLETREE: And so all those issues and even the stimulus package the $787 billion.

OGLETREE: Professor if... if the President loses in November then you're going to have a real course. And I mean a real thing about why and what happened and all of that.

So what I want you to do is I want you to invite to be a guest lecturer one week.

OGLETREE: I just did. I want you to come. I want you to come.

O'REILLY: I'll come up there and we'll... we'll kick it around. And we appreciate you taking the time to be with us tonight.

OGLETREE: And look, hold up and then also in 2014 the class will be "Understanding Romney" if he is elected. Cover that as well.

O'REILLY: I'll be in an old age home by then. All right, Professor...

OGLETREE: We will still come and get you, Bill.

O'REILLY: We appreciate it.

OGLETREE: My pleasure thank you.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.