This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is President Obama an easy grader or a tough one? The president just graded himself during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: What grade would you give yourself for this year?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good, solid B-plus.
WINFREY: A B-plus.
OBAMA: Yes. I mean, I think that we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
WINFREY: So B-plus...
OBAMA: ... in a very long time.
WINFREY: ... means that you've done better.
OBAMA: Well, B-plus because of the things that are undone.
OBAMA: Health care is not yet signed. If I get health care passed, I'll -- we'd tip into A-minus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the ladies of "The View," did their own grading of the president, and things got heated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": If this is going to reflect at all what the American people are thinking with his approval ratings down 20 percent in the past few months, I mean, really, the grade...
JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": They're what?
HASSELBECK: His approval ratings are down, like, what, 20 percent since the beginning.
BEHAR: Oh, down 20, not to 20.
HASSELBECK: He should be getting, like, D for "delusional" for giving himself a B-plus right now with the economy! Talk to someone -- he should be...
HASSELBECK: He should be asking the American...
BEHAR: I don't know about that.
HASSELBECK: Or maybe...
BEHAR: I don't agree with that.
HASSELBECK: He should be asking the American people what grade they would give him...
BEHAR: Well, you know something, Elisabeth? Last year, we were in a very big financial problem in this country.
HASSELBECK: Yes, as opposed to this year?
BEHAR: And he -- he has basically saved us from the brink of disaster.
BEHAR: And for that, he deserves a B-plus.
HASSELBECK: A B-plus is a strong grade. I think if you have a kid and they have a B-plus in calculus, you'd say, Wow. My kid's doing really, really well. I don't think that's the case right now.
BEHAR: I think calculus is easier...
HASSELBECK: I don't think...
BEHAR: ... than trying to fix this country after what Bush did.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": Would have given him -- I would give him a C or C-plus because there are some things that he said he would do that he has not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the grading President Obama did or does of his predecessor, President Bush 43? Fair? Joining us live is former White House press secretary Dana Perino, who served in President George W. Bush's administration. He did talk about the president, about President Bush 43, and he didn't give him particularly high grades. I don't think he gave him a letter, but he didn't give him high grades.
DANA PERINO, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he ran against President Bush from the beginning, and that was, like, the whole point of his campaign, except for some hope and change, which we all know now was quite vague because it's not turning into the actual programs that he wanted. I think it's a good idea for any politician or any CEO of any company to not answer that question. And look, it's -- that's for the American people to decide. That's for my shareholders to decide. I'm focused on what's important. It would have been a better way to answer it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well (INAUDIBLE) I mean, she did ask him. I mean -- I mean, he was sort, like, you know...
PERINO: Yes, but you can say...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know, boxed in a little bit.
PERINO: No, he's not. No, he's not.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he should have said -- he should have said something, like, you know, I need to wait until the end of my four years.
PERINO: Yes, how about an "I" for incomplete? You know, I still have a long way to go.
VAN SUSTEREN: That would have been good. You have any problem with the things he said about the president?
PERINO: Sure. I mean, I think -- one of the things that was not in the Oprah interview but in the "60 Minutes" interview was the thing that I thought -- I hope President Obama didn't mean it the way it came across, but when he suggested that President Bush was too triumphant in his rhetoric when talking about war and that President -- indicating that President Bush didn't understand the weight of the decision that is made when you send men and women into war, is demonstrably false.
And take it from someone who knows. I was there. I got to see President Bush visit the wounded warriors. I got to see him visit with families of the fallen and make those decisions that were important. But he also put them in a position when he thought they could win and told them that they could, which is what any president or general before President Bush used the same type of rhetoric when he -- when making those decisions.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the quote from "60 Minutes" -- I have it here -- that you're speaking about is -- which President Obama says, "One of the mistakes that was made over the last eight years is for us to have a triumphant sense about war and about kicking" -- then he went on to talk about kicking some tail.
PERINO: Like, what president or general did not stir the hearts of their troops before sending them in? I mean, that doesn't make any sense. That quote was actually in response to a question by Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" suggesting that the speech at West Point was seen as too analytical and not emotional. The next thing that he suggests -- Steve Kroft suggests is that the speech was confusing, and President Obama again was extremely defensive.
I don't understand why the White House would have made a decision to have him do a "60 Minutes" interview a week before it was going to air, and in addition, have the Oprah Winfrey interview, which was supposed to be the lead one of the week. It doesn't make sense to me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you recall -- just to be -- I've been trying to think, in terms of fairness -- when President Bush 43 took office, was he critical in a similar way of President Clinton, his predecessor? Because one of the things -- I mean, I think that we also want to think of it as our presidents having greatness about them and not getting petty.
PERINO: Right. Well...
VAN SUSTEREN: But do you -- I mean, I don't -- I don't -- this isn't...
PERINO: You know, I wasn't there at the beginning, and I think there is a certain amount of comparison that has to go on at the beginning. But almost everyone, the left, right, center, columnists, even late night talk show hosts, are suggesting to President Obama that he lay off the inheritance and the blaming because you've now been in office nearly a year. These policies are your policies. The stimulus bill that you passed that failed -- that's your policy, and you're having to deal with it.
So look, I think the other thing that you've seen is that President Bush has been an incredibly gracious post-president, during the transition...
VAN SUSTEREN: He has not said a word about the president.
PERINO: And he said, President Obama deserves my silence. And I would dare say that he deserves a lot more respect than he's getting right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the grades he gave himself? What do you think about those grades?
PERINO: I think -- again, I think that -- I think that Ms. Hasselbeck has a good point on "The View" that the approval ratings would put him down at about a D, if you're talking about a 44 percent, if you look at the Rasmussen poll today.
But again, I think that those are the wrong way to look at a presidency, and you have to look at it over a course of time. He's got a long way to go. but I do think that last week, and especially yesterday, Harry Reid is well short of the votes he needs to pass health care. So they're going to have to regroup. Unemployment's at 10 percent. They've got confusion on the Sunday shows yesterday, with Larry Summers saying we're not in a recession, Christina Romer saying we are in a recession. I think the American people are looking at this and saying, Could you guys get it together and focus on what's important?
VAN SUSTEREN: To me, the most important statistic domestically is unemployment. And it is a lagging indicator. I mean, it's -- you know, and whether someone says it's a recession or not recession -- recession's when you don't have a job. But he's got to -- he's got to -- we've had one good change, down 2 percent from 10.2 to 10 percent -- I mean, of course, that could just be people just giving up and not even, you know, trying to find a job anymore. That could be that 2 percent. But that to me is a the that makes or breaks this president. He's got to get that number down.
PERINO: Well, even if we are out of a recession, if it's a jobless recovery, people are going to feel like they're in a recession for longer.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, it's very tough on people. It's, like, those numbers -- I can't stand to read the stories about people who want jobs and can't get them.
PERINO: It's important that we do read those stories so that we know and we remember. And I think that when people see -- I believe that when - - one of the reasons that the approval ratings are going down is that they see rhetoric, like what was used on "60 Minutes" to grade a former president of the United States. In addition to that, later on in the interview, he says on health care, Seven presidents have failed before me. So it made me think that the triumphant language is only good if you're talking about yourself.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, well, at least -- I don't forget the one article I read where the woman borrowed the money to go to a job interview for gas and then the person didn't show up. But we got to go. Dana, thank you.
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