Should Republicans Back Off Weiner Scandal?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: Charles Krauthammer often has a different take on the news of the day, which is why we like him. One of the reasons, of course. Yesterday he issued a warning to the Republican Party to back off the Weiner situation, but why? Charles joins us now from Washington. So why should the GOP back away?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I wouldn't presume to call it a warning. It was a piece of gratuitous advice. The reason is the oldest rule in politics: When the other guys are committing suicide, get out of the room. Don't get in the way.

And the lesson here is from the Clinton years. Clinton had something like the Weiner trajectory except that it was a prolonged one. He lied about it at first and a few months later he then made a confession and then what happened is the Republicans decided to seize on this and to overreach with impeachment and then also with the Starr report. And they thought they really had the goods on this guy and it turned out that sort of the public, of course, was profoundly angered with Clinton at the beginning, especially the lie. But then when it looked as if the Republicans were exploiting it cynically, public opinion changed on that.

And I think the lesson is very simple. These scandals speak for themselves. There is no reason to interject yourself if you are the opposition. There is a paradox here. The Republicans may call for resignation but, actually, in terms of their pure partisan interest, the longer this -- the person in the scandal stays in office, especially if he is a Democrat in this case, the better it is if you are a Republican.

It's, as Karl indicated in the earlier segment, it's the Democrats who are getting squeezed here, who are getting deflected from the successful counterattack on the Republicans with the Mediscare scandal. This is ruining their sort of their messaging. And the longer it happens, the longer they are on the defensive.

O'REILLY: OK, so the Republicans really can't advance the story, you say. But what about the people who want -- and this is -- this is a significant part of the population, I think, who want to see Weiner battered. People who don't like him, who think he is arrogant, who resent the fact that he lied, that he has a very high position in this country, brought embarrassment to the nation. So the people say, you know what? We want somebody to come in and kick him and kick him again. What about that?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I don't think that's a very charitable human instinct. Maybe some people want it, but generally speaking, graciousness or at least some kind of -- if not empathy, sort of human sympathy. The guy was a wreck yesterday. His life is a wreck. It began as a comedy. Now it's kind of a tragedy. I think we shouldn't indulge in those impulses. And if you are thinking of it purely in political terms, it will not work for you because there will be a significant portion of the population who will say the guy is down and why are you kicking him in the head? He really is not going to -- I think it's very unlikely he will make it and hang on to his seat. But in either case, imagine the pain and ruination in his life. It's a bad human instinct and I think it's a bad political instinct.

O'REILLY: Do you think most -- most Americans are of your thinking? Do you think most Americans say OK, didn't like him to start with -- or maybe did -- got what he deserves. Now if you keep piling on him, I don't like you. Because I think you are right. I think that that instinct is at the heart of why Bill Clinton made that comeback, of why now his approval ratings are more than 50 percent in all polls because they said, all right, he got it but you know enough is enough.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think that is the best historical example, the closest analogy. And you know, for the Democrats he is a national hero, generally speaking. He is considered a statesman. He toughed it out and I think there was that instinct. You know, when the Starr report came out with all the details of his encounters with Lewinsky. Maybe some people imagined it would make people angry with Clinton. I think what happened was quite remarkable at the time. I was surprised. The general reaction was anger with Starr for having put that in a report. He didn't really have to do it, it was argued. It embarrassed the United States, as well as the president. And it was a reaction to Starr, which then I must say the Clinton administration, which had great pure political instincts, exploited that kind of sentiment and turned public opinion against the Republicans who got whacked in the '98 elections, when you would have thought it would have been a give-me for the Republicans.

O'REILLY: All right. Now you said though in the face of Bill Clinton making a comeback, that Weiner can't. Why?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, Clinton was in -- he's in a different league. He was president. He had resources. He had, generally speaking, mainstream media prefer to have a Democrat in the presidency than they do a Republican. Gingrich was the foil. He was the villain. Remember he appeared on the cover of a news magazine as the Grinch -- the Gingrich who stole Christmas. He wasn't exactly the guy in shining armor that the mainstream media would have preferred. So a president has a lot of resources and to a party had a sense that we're in this with Clinton or we're going to sink. And they stayed with him. That's not the same with a single congressman from one district in New York.

O'REILLY: No, they are bailing on him, that's for sure, as we just heard with Reid. All right, Charles, very interesting as always. Thank you.

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