OTR Interviews

Krauthammer: Obama wanted to be the 'Reagan of the Left,' can see his legacy 'slipping away'

Syndicated columnist takes on president's lost mojo,  the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State's F-bomb and tepid U.S. hiring numbers for January


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 7, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: One day after getting caught cursing out the E.U., yes, dropping the F-bomb, America's top diplomat for Europe facing the media. First, here is another look at what assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, got caught telling another U.S. diplomat on the phone.


VICTORIA NULAND, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it and, you know, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the E.U.


VAN SUSTEREN: Here is what she told reporters today.


NULAND: I'm obviously not going to comment on private diplomatic conversations, other than to say it was pretty impressive trade craft. The audio was extremely clear.


VAN SUSTEREN: Since yesterday, the State Department implying Russia was behind the leaked phone call.

Charles Krauthammer, the author of the best-selling book "Things That Matter." If you don't have it, get it. He joins us. Nice to see you, Charles.


VAN SUSTEREN: Victoria Nuland using the F-word, and I think a lot of people were probably saying "Go Victoria" on it, and now saying very coyly that Russians have good trade craft in linking it.

KRAUTHAMMER: I thought she handled that extremely well. I think as a general population, her disdain, shall we say, for the Europeans on foreign affairs is absolutely warranted. They really haven't pulled their weight since the Berlin air lift. There's nothing new here.

She's talking about the tug of war of Russia and the West over the fate of the Ukraine, which is a very big deal. And the Europeans have been feckless, at best. This is a great opportunity to stop the ambitions of Russia and Putin to reconstruct the old Soviet empire, and they are dragging their feet. So she may not have used the right word but she certainly had the right idea.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're Team Victoria?

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk about the Obama administration. President hitting the road, bad numbers. Your thoughts about how the president is doing.

KRAUTHAMMER: There is a kind of weariness. You saw it in the "New Yorker" interview with David Remnick. I think the president had a sense that he is not going to be what he thought he was. He can see his legacy slipping away. Look, he said in 2008 that Reagan was historically consequential in a way that a Clinton was not. The ambition of Obama was to be the Reagan of the left, to changed ideological trajectory of America. And he was extremely ambitious in that way.

If you look at the things he's tried to, he struck out with cap-and-trade as a way to get control of the energy economy. He didn't accomplish much with education, which is another one of his ideals. He is not going to get the preschool education, the universal, that he wanted. The one thing he got was health care. That is the one thing that history will remember him for. And it is falling apart around him. And he can see it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying he lacks the enthusiasm? He's almost given up, is that what you are saying?

KRAUTHAMMER: He can see that having lost control of the Congress and having no prospect of regaining control, and losing the trust of Americans. His numbers are low. You can succeed against a hostile Congress if the people are with you. Reagan did that. But there is nothing large that he can accomplish. And he is has always seen himself as large.

He will be remembered historically, not just because obviously he was the first African-American, but because he changed the ideological direction of America the way a Reagan did. That he is not going to achieve. He got a stimulus and he got Obamacare.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's his achievement?

KRAUTHAMMER: The one thing that would have been a monument would have been ObamaCare. That is a road to nationalizing health care, which is what he wanted. But he can see it falling apart around him. There is not a single Democrat of any stature supporting it right now. He can see it slipping away. If that slips away, then his presidency is ruined. I think he sort of has a sense of that, trying to recapture it but not seeing a way in which he can. And I don't think there is a way in which he can. He is not going to recapture the Congress? He will probably lose the Senate. And then he will truly be a lame duck.

VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, always nice to see you. Book's on the best-seller list. Just want to tell the viewers once again, great book.

Thank you, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Thank you very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thanks for joining us.