Churchill bust brouhaha

Charles Krauthammer weighs in on the Winston Churchill bust controversy.


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor,” July 31, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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B. O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tent, in a recent column Charles Krauthammer said that President Obama returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the British embassy in Washington. Well, the Obama administration lashed out, saying that wasn't true: the bust remains in the White House. But there's an interesting twist to this story.

Joining us now from Washington, FOX News analyst Charles Krauthammer.

So this is the tale of two busts. This could be Agatha Christie here, correct?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, what happened was, to bolster their charge that I was spreading a false rumor, what I said was 100 percent false they showed a picture of Obama showing David Cameron two years ago a bust of Churchill in the White House residence. So that was to back up the story that it wasn't sent back to the British embassy. It was actually just moved in the White House.

But that was extremely deceptive. And we found out by asking the British embassy as soon as the White House unleashed its attack on me. And the embassy said no, the bust is in the residence of the British ambassador and has been since the beginning of the Obama administration.

And as the British press reported at the time what had happened is that, after 9/11, Britain had loaned to Bush a bust of Churchill as a show of solidarity for one term. When the term expired they extended the loan for a second term.

And then when Obama won the presidency, the British government offered to extend the loan to Obama, but the Obama administration said no. And it was returned to the British embassy.

What you saw in that deceptive picture was another Churchill sculpture that had been given to the United States in the Johnson administration; had been there for 50 years.

B. O'REILLY: It wasn't the one that you were talking about?

KRAUTHAMMER: Not at all. Been there for 50 years, was kept in their collection and kept in the residence.

B. O'REILLY: Here's the back story. Some people believe that President Obama doesn't like Winston Churchill because of British colonialism in Africa, particularly Kenya. So that he didn't want old Winnie looking at him because he didn't like him. That he sent it back because of that. That's what's been around.

Now, your point on even bringing it up, the bust deal was, what?

KRAUTHAMMER: My point was I don't read into people's minds. If I wanted to, I would have remained in psychiatry. All I know is that the British reaction to the return of the bust was extremely negative, and it felt like it was an insult, that this was a gift after 9/11 to show solidarity. The British had soldiers serving with us at the time in Iraq and Afghanistan, really standing shoulder to shoulder and this was a slight. That's how they saw it.

B. O'REILLY: But why bring it up now three years after it happened?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, that was very puzzling. This has been reported in dozens of places, in Newsweek, CBS, ABC, so why now? Why me? And the reason I think is because these other outlets that had written this with no protest from the White House are not exactly unfriendly to Obama, but here was a chance to bring home the scalp of a consistent critic of the president, and that's why they jumped on it.

B. O'REILLY: So they were after you? Now, why did you bring it up in your column? Why did you?

KRAUTHAMMER: I was writing about the Romney trip and that his choice of venues -- Britain, Poland, Israel -- were three countries that felt slighted by Obama policy.

B. O'REILLY: I see. You had a reason to do it?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I was giving examples of the perceived.

B. O'REILLY: Of the slights. OK.

KRAUTHAMMER: Perceived slight, exactly. Right.

B. O'REILLY: All right. Now, so you won. You were right and this guy Pfeiffer, Dan Pfeiffer, he actually sent you an email that said, "I take your criticism -- dear Charles, I take your criticism seriously and you are correct," all right? It was clearly an internal confusion, no intention to deceive blah blah blah, they basically said they were sorry you were right and they were wrong, correct?

KRAUTHAMMER: I accept the apology. I must admit I was utterly surprised that I got it. I'd written in my column that I thought the Nationals would win the World Series before I'd see an apology, and there it was.

O'REILLY: So the Nationals, they may win this year.

KRAUTHAMMER: The are going to win the World Series. Now I know where to put my money on.

O'REILLY: Now, as far as Romney's trip to Europe is concerned, now he has got his guys cursing at reporters. I don't know, I mean, is that a good strategy, cursing at reporters? Is that good?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it wasn't exactly a curse. It was -- I mean, if I can say it on the air one of his people said shove it to persistent questioner.

I would remind readers or listeners, viewers, that eight years ago, almost to the day, Theresa Heinz was being pestered with questions from a reporter from Pittsburgh. She said "shove it"; was asked about it and said, "I don't regret having said it."

And Hillary Clinton was asked about it the next morning on television and her response was -- let me see if I got this right -- "Good for you, girl. Go, girl." So you know, it isn't exactly something that's unheard of in American politics.

B. O'REILLY: No, no. Johnny Paycheck doesn't apologize for "Take This Job and Shove It?

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. 1977, the one-hit wonder.

B. O'REILLY: But I think that Mitt Romney has got to be a little bit more open with the press. I know they're out to get him. He knows they're out to get him. But wouldn't you advise the governor to be a little bit more accessible? I think that would probably be better going forward for him. Am I wrong?

KRAUTHAMMER: I agree with you. We showed on "Special Report" the questions that they were hurling at him at a solemn site in Poland. And the questions were...

B. O'REILLY: It's ridiculous.

KRAUTHAMMER: "How about the gaffes, Governor?"

B. O'REILLY: How about the gaffes, right?

KRAUTHAMMER: What kind of a question is a respectable reporter: "How about the gaffes?"

B. O'REILLY: Right. We all know what the press is and what they're trying to do. But Romney can defuse that.

KRAUTHAMMER: I know it especially. Yes. Look, they're trying to use it against him. And he stumbled, I think on the British stuff. I don't believe he made a mistake when he spoke about the Palestinians, even though the Palestinians are...

B. O'REILLY: I know your opinion on that. I don't think he made any gaffes either. I think he did a pretty good job over there.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the Polish -- and the Polish leg was a triumph, I thought.

B. O'REILLY: All right. Charles, thanks very much. We appreciate the "Factor Tip of the Day."

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