Krauthammer on Obama's Easter sermon controversy

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, fallout from the Easter Sunday sermon given by Pastor Lewis Leon in Washington.

As you may have heard, the pastor injected race into the sermon as President Obama's family looked on from the pew. The pastor's main point is some conservative Americans who want to return to the bad old days of segregation or something.

Joining us now from Washington, Fox News Analyst, Charles Krauthammer. So, I don't want to put words in your mouth.

I was down in Caribbean and I kind of got the gist that you weren't that upset about this as some people were. Is that true.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I'm afraid heads are going to have to roll in your research department. I was pretty rough on the pastor. I thought what he did was disgraceful. I think I called it a libel.

And I -- it was actually quite an echo of what Ted Kennedy said when Robert Bork -- remember when he was nominated, within minutes, Kennedy was on the floor of the Senate saying, "Robert Bork's America is an America where blacks can't be served at the counter," --

-- "where women have backroom abortions." And the pastor at this church essentially said the same thing. It's a racist country, racist, sexist, blames it on the religious right.

And it was a libel. It was a slander of the first order. The question was, was Obama somehow complicit in this.

Because he didn't object before or afterwards. And my answer is, when the president goes to church, he is not required to react to whatever the pastor says.

This is different from sitting in a pew in Jeremiah Wright's Church for 20 years, calling him your mentor, having him marry you and baptize your children. In that case, of course, you are associated.

O'REILLY: But let me play devil's advocate here for a moment.

KRAUTHAMMER: But on a Sunday, at Easter Sunday, he's got to respond? The answer, I think, is no.

O'REILLY: Let me play devil's advocate here. I share your outrage about the inappropriateness of the minister's remarks on Easter Sunday.

But I disagree with you, if I were the president of the United States, I would have put out a statement through Jay Carney. And Carney told Ed Henry, our White House guy, "Oh, I didn't ask the president about it," which is probably true.

But they all knew he should have asked him about it, but he just didn't. I just put out a statement and say, "Look, this is the way I feel. And I didn't really think it was the best way to phrase it on Easter Sunday," signed President Barack Obama. What would have been wrong with that.

KRAUTHAMMER: There wouldn't have been anything wrong with that. And if you had been the president, I'm sure you would --

O'REILLY: I would.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's probably why you're not the president.


I think --

O'REILLY: There are many other reasons, too.

KRAUTHAMMER: You know, there are a lot of other reasons. I won't go into them. The show and the segment are too short.


Look, the problem is this, when president goes to church, I don't think he is required --

O'REILLY: No, not required.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- to make a statement. And --

O'REILLY: Look, he's supposed to represent the whole country. And that's what Barack Obama doesn't seem to get.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, this is a church that's across the street from the White House. He didn't choose it because of the pastor.

He chose it because every president, since Madison, has gone there.

O'REILLY: No, that's no excuse.

KRAUTHAMMER: And that's where you go on Easter Sunday.

O'REILLY: Well, that guy has got to be old. Are you telling me he talked to James Madison, this guy. How old is this man.

KRAUTHAMMER: All the presidents in between, --

O'REILLY: All right, now, you heard the debate at the top of the program.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- including Chester Arthur.

O'REILLY: And one of my favorites, the New York Port Authority guy. You heard the top of the program. You yourself had been criticized by some on the right when you don't hold the torch of what ideological purity of whatever they want.

That's what really this is all about. And then on the left, those weasels come in and try to exploit that fissure.

You see it but I'm interested to think what -- to hear what you say about it.

KRAUTHAMMER: So, you mean that I get attacked on the right when, for example, I declined to attack Obama because he didn't respond to what a pastor said in a sermon on Easter.

O'REILLY: But I didn't attack you. I just disagreed.

KRAUTHAMMER: No, no, no.

O'REILLY: Politely and with good humor.

KRAUTHAMMER: That was an attempt at humor. Maybe I should have had a sign on the bottom saying, "irony."


Look, of course, you get attacked from left and right all the time. If you're in the business and you're a big boy, you know that's going to happen.

And I think you've got to ignore almost all of it because, otherwise, you're going to spend your whole time in response. Now, there are the major issues of our time where you express yourself.

And if you and, say the body of conservatives, disagree, I think you're obligated to explain yourself. But, beyond that, I don't think you're obligated to go to the mat.

O'REILLY: No, no. But I find it an interesting exercise on what the strategy is to divide and conquer on the left. And then the right is ideological purity.

Were you offended when I said you've got to be more than thump the Bible to win the gay marriage debate. Did that offend you, Charles Krauthammer.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think you were right to say it. And the reason is this. It's a serious argument. I have complete respect for anybody who says, "I'm against abortion," or "against homosexual marriage because I believe in the Bible."

That, I respect completely and I don't argue. However, if you want to persuade people who are not of your faith, you have to go beyond that or you will not succeed.

And since we are not a majority country where everybody has the same interpretation of the Bible, I think you have to make a case that goes beyond it.

It's not that I have no respect for it or that some liberals, I believe, that if you cite scripture, somehow you are written out of argument. And you're, somehow, in a way, that is against the Constitution, introducing religion into politics.

There is no pro-edition about opposing policy x for whatever reason, it could be religious or secular.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

KRAUTHAMMER: You have every right. But if you want to expand your constituency, --

O'REILLY: That's right, if you want to win the argument, the majority.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- then you have to go outside the narrow bounds of your own religion. That's always been true. And that's what happens in the pluralistic society.

O'REILLY: All right, Charles. I got most of them. And some of those were a little large, but I got most of it. And, as always --

KRAUTHAMMER: I try to keep them short on your show.

O'REILLY: I know you do.

KRAUTHAMMER: Because I know you're just a simple man.


O'REILLY: I am a simple man.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's what you tell me.

O'REILLY: If you think of a synonym for "thump," I would have been a lot better off.

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