Bush Bashing!

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Personal story" segment tonight, there is a code of conduct among American presidents that you don't criticize the current occupant of the White House (search), but Jimmy Carter (search) has thrown that out the window and had this to say about the Bush Iraq action.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: This was a culmination of a long-term plan we were going to attack Iraq, were going to establish an American military base of a major character in the Middle East in Iraq and still — and in the process remove Saddam Hussein.

And I think that the claims that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and the claims that they had weapons of mass destruction that would threaten our country were manipulated, at least, to mislead the American people into going to war.


O'REILLY: Now to be fair, The Wall Street Journal (search) pointed out today that three separate investigations have exonerated the Bush administration of any manipulation or distortion of pre-war intelligence.

Joining us now from Houston is presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, the author of the book "The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey beyond the White House."

You know, Carter, I've been trying to get him on the program now for nine years. He will go across the street to NBC, but he won't come in here. I feel kind of bad. My feelings are hurt.

But I know he believes what he says. But you know, you read The Wall Street Journal today, it's so exhaustive. The investigation has been so exhaustive into this. And then he says the opposite. And you go, is he just nuts or what?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Jimmy Carter has become a very left of center, even I'd say moving far left figure when it comes to the issues of America at war. You know, he was against the first war in Iraq. Very strongly. In fact, he wrote letters back in `90 and `91 to the United Nations (search), asking them to vote against the United States.

I once interviewed Dick Cheney (search) about that and he thought it was borderline treason on Jimmy Carter's part.

There's a pacifism that comes out of Carter at all times. And where somebody like Bill Clinton as president talked about there possibly being or being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Carter doesn't see it that way. He was for the war in Afghanistan, but he's against what we're doing in Iraq. And he has found a spot for himself as a voice on the anti - as really one of the leading voices in the anti-war movement.

O'REILLY: But this breaks precedent. You know, when I did an article on Gerald Ford (search) for Parade magazine, right in the middle of the impeachment, absolutely wouldn't address the issue. He said he felt bad for the country and he - you know, wanted dignity restored to the White House. But there's no way I could blow an answer out of him about the Clinton problems. And Bush the elder wouldn't speak about anything. Reagan wouldn't. And I think that's all throughout history that that precedent has been set. Am I wrong?

BRINKLEY: Well, for the most part. You get times like Harry Truman (search) didn't like Eisenhower. And he said he knows — Ike knows as much about politics as a pig does on Sunday. And the media made quite a thing of that.

Carter, since 1981 and particularly since '82 when he created the Carter Center, has been an opponent of Ronald Reagan, of really all the presidents, even Bill Clinton (search) now. He did not get along well with Clinton.

Some people in government abused Carter very effectively, namely former Secretary of State James Baker (search), who was able to use Carter to monitor elections in Nicaragua and Panama. And Carter does so much good human rights work with groups like Habitat, but also going to Africa and fighting Guinea worm disease and river blindness.

But when it comes to global politics, Carter tends to take the pacifist view. He's much closer in line to somebody like an Eleanor Roosevelt (search) than any other American president.

O'REILLY: Do you think.

BRINKLEY: And he is, go ahead.

O'REILLY: Go ahead, go ahead.

BRINKLEY: Well, he is unique in the sense that he takes swings, but it's just not at this president. He did the same thing to Bill Clinton. And he did the same thing to Ronald Reagan (search).


BRINKLEY: You know.

O'REILLY: Do Americans take him seriously? Or has he been marginalized because of his ineffective presidency?

BRINKLEY: Well, there's people in America that he's one of their favorite people. His book hit the bestseller list. They love Jimmy Carter, but he's more of a global figure.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize (search). He uses CNN quite effectively, because it's an Atlanta operation when he goes around the world.

And I think he casts himself more as a global statesperson, a global peacemaker than he does as a former president that's thinking about American interest. He thinks more in global terms.

O'REILLY: All right, Doug, thanks very much. As always, we appreciate it.

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