Return to Transcripts main page


Bush, Obama Meet Privately Today; Interview with Judge Judy

Aired November 10, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, history walks through the doors of the White House -- 44 greets 43. It's Barack Obama's first time ever in the Oval Office and the president-elect is not wasting a second.
Is he about to undo what President George Bush has done?

Plus, Michelle Obama tours the new digs.

How will she combine being first lady with mom-in-chief.

And then Judge Judy has got some ideas about the election, too.


JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN: We are not connecting, sir.


KING: And she's not holding back -- holding court on the presidency, Sarah Palin, gay marriage and more.

All right, now on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have an outstanding panel to kick things off.

In Austin, Texas is Karen Hughes, former counselor to President George W. Bush.

In Palm Beach is Paul Begala, Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor. He was counsel to the president during the Clinton administration.

And old friend Mack McLarty. He served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton -- the first -- he was first of Clinton's chiefs of staff and he was part of the transition team when Clinton succeeded George H.W. Bush.

We'll get to all of them in a moment.

But first, let's check in with Ed Henry, CNN's White House correspondent.

What went on today -- Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is one of those days where you pinch yourself as a White House correspondent to be standing here watching history right before your eyes. It was just over a hundred years ago, you'll remember, President Theodore Roosevelt got all kinds of grief just for having a black man, Booker T. Washington, here at the White House for dinner. And then here today you've got Barack Obama and his wife coming as president- elect. They're basically going to be taking this place over in just a few weeks.

And so there was history before your eyes. But, also, I think it should be noted that President Bush, who has really taken his licks over the last couple of years, showed a lot of graciousness. And I can tell you, from talking to a senior adviser to Barack Obama just a short while ago, that was noted in the Obama camp, that not only did the president take a lot of time to bring Barack Obama up to the residence, show him around, including the rooms where his daughters are likely to be sleeping -- and let's not forget, these are two fathers, each with two daughters.

But, also, they spent more than an hour in the Oval Office, where they largely talked about the financial crisis; also, security. A lot of concern at this White House right now about the transition to power, that Al Qaeda or some other terror group might try to take advantage of that.

So what you see are these two leaders, who have been diametrically opposed on a lot of issues, trying to come together behind closed doors and forge at least a short-term bond here. And it's obviously rare to see that.

We spent so much time in recent months talking about the bitterness, the divisiveness. It's pretty interesting to see these two leaders come together.

KING: Yes.

Thank you, Ed.

As always, right on top of things.

Ed Henry, CNN White House correspondent.

All right, Mack McLarty, you were part of a transition when Clinton met with George H.W. Bush.

What's it like?

MACK MCLARTY, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, PRES. BILL CLINTON: Campaigns are long, Larry. Transitions are short, they're hectic and they're demanding. There is so much to be done in a very short period of time. But I really, to date, give the Obama team very high marks in really moving forward, I think, in a very thoughtful manner, but also a very timely manner.

John Podesta, who worked with me and with Paul, is a very capable professional leading the transition. And Rahm Emanuel is as competent as he is colorful.

KING: And Karen Hughes, what was it like for you when George Bush -- George W. Bush -- took over from Bill Clinton?

KAREN HUGHES, FORMER COUNSELOR, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it was exhilarating. It was exhausting. It was thrilling. It's a great privilege to -- as President-Elect Obama realized today -- to walk into that Oval Office. It's -- the scene -- looking at the scene today, I thought, what a country. It's got to be a day of pride for all Americans in both the institutions of our country and the enduring institutions, and, also, the individuals -- I mean to watch the outgoing president and the incoming president meet in a climate of such respect and graciousness.

President Bush has been very gracious and decent. President-Elect Obama was clearly very respectful, was engaged and delighted to be there.

And so I thought it was a day of pride for all Americans.

But, Larry, I do want to say, also, this is the first time I've been on your show since the election. And most people who are your viewers know that I supported Senator McCain.

But I want to personally congratulate President-Elect Obama. He ran a brilliant campaign and he managed to inspire a lot of people, including me, with the hope that our politics and our country can be more noble and better.

KING: Very well said.

Paul Begala, what do you make of all -- did you expect this?


KING: I mean, you can't -- you can't turn a page without seeing Obama.

BEGALA: Well, yes, actually. You knew that was coming, because -- first off, it happens for every new president.

And let's face it, this one is extraordinary -- our first African-American president.

I mean, as Ed Henry said in his report, which I loved, because it wasn't the usual cynicism that some of his colleagues and competitors in media give us. This was a moment to pinch yourself.

I would say the grace, the class that the Bushes showed shows you the kind of people that they are. This is still their home. It's obviously his job. And as the Obama team keeps reminding us, we only have one president at a time.

So he's got the hardest, busiest job in the world. He took two hours out of his day to walk Senator Obama -- President-Elect Obama through.

And then Mrs. Bush taking time to show the residents around to Michelle Obama -- it's just a wonderful moment, that a building that was built in 1800, I think, in part, by slave labor, is now going to be inhabited by a new president, an African-American family.

It just -- it does makes you proud to be an American.

KING: Mack, what do you make at how quick they got together?

Is this unique?

MCLARTY: It's quicker than normal, Larry. You always have the meeting of the president-elect and the president. I was not surprised, however, as both Karen and Paul noted, that the meeting went well. There is a mutual respect, I think, for anyone who has run for presidency and certainly those that have been elected.

And I think both men understand the seriousness of this transition, the seriousness of the moment -- both from a security and an economic standpoint.

And I give the Bush White House and President Bush high marks for how serious they are focusing on this transition. That's what they should be doing and they're doing it quite well.

KING: Karen, do you think it's possible that they could do things in a way together before Obama takes office?

HUGHES: Well, I think as President-Elect Obama has said, he's very cognizant that there is only one president. I do think, however, that President Bush has gone out of his way to encourage his staff and all the cabinet secretaries to involve the personnel from the new administration in all the decision-making, to have them sit in on any meetings they would like to sit in on, to get fully briefed and prepared. And I think you're really seeing the Bush administration go above and beyond to try to make sure that the transition is as smooth and orderly as possible.

And, after all, President-Elect Obama, on day one, will face the same trifecta of issues that President Bush has been dealing with.

KING: Yes...

HUGHES: And that's the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ongoing threat of a terror attack and a very difficult economic time.

And so I know President Bush is absolutely committed and has been working for months. They've had a very extensive process to make sure that the current administration shares as much information as possible so that the new administration is ready from day one.

KING: I'll ask Paul Begala when we come back if he thinks they can come up with an economic stimulus package now.

And it's still ahead, Judge Judy -- should she be on the Supreme Court?

That's our Quick Vote question.


KING: Paul, it would be historic, but could they come up with a joint stimulus package proposal?

BEGALA: I don't think so, Larry. You know, I think that Karen makes a good point -- that the outgoing administration will do all it can to brief and inform the incoming administration, but you can't have collaborative power in America. The president cannot delegate his authority to his successor until the Constitution says so.

And these two men have very different visions. President Bush has his views and he's been working on enacting them for eight years. President-Elect Obama has his views.

Then Congress will come back next week for a lame duck session. They will likely pass some sort of kind of economic stimulus.

But I've got to tell you, the Democrats right now are not in much of a mood to negotiate with outgoing President Bush. I think if they don't get their way, if he doesn't sign what Congress passes, I think, in a way, that will be OK with them. They don't want to negotiate with a guy who's leaving office in a matter of weeks. They'd rather negotiate with the new guy who is of their party.

KING: Mack, do you expect to see a lot of executive orders canceled?

MCLARTY: I do expect to see some, Larry. I think they will. That's the prerogative of any incoming president. And as I think has been pointed out, there's different points of views, different philosophies. And I do think President Obama will issue some executive orders or will revoke some standing measures. Yes, I do.

KING: Karen, the president is hosting a global economic summit on November 15th. President-Elect Obama is not attending.

Should he?

HUGHES: No. I think he's made a wise decision. President Bush feels that he needs to do everything he can while he is the president to work with leaders from across the world to try to restore some stability I the global economy and try to come up with a joint way forward.

And I think, again, that President-Elect Obama has recognized that we have one president at a time. He's preparing to take the reigns of leadership. But I think it might be a little awkward for the United States to essentially have two people in the same room representing our country with leaders from around the word.

KING: Paul, when do we expect hear our...


KING: When do -- Paul, when do we expect our first cabinet appointees?

BEGALA: Well, traditionally, that hasn't happened until December. You're getting signs from Team Obama that they're going to move a little more rapidly. I did notice the president-elect used this phrase "with all deliberate haste."

Now, those are of us burdened with a legal education remember in the "Brown v. Board of Education" case, which integrated public schools so that black kids and white kids had to go to school together, the court said "move with all deliberate speed."

And in my beloved South, they moved very, very slowly.

And so I think it's interesting that this former constitutional law professor has said "all deliberate haste." He's going to take his time. He's going to get it right rather than right away. But I do think before December, we're likely to see a couple of early appointments. I think he's moving at a more rapid clip than some of his predecessors.

KING: Mack, President-Elect Obama suggested -- didn't ask or order -- to Harry Reid that Joe Lieberman be kept in the Caucus -- the Democratic Caucus -- and be kept as chairman of his committee.

What do you think of that?

MCLARTY: Well, I think President-Elect Obama has the standing and the mandate from the people to suggest things that he would like to see happen. And I think it's likely -- it's likely he will be listened to very carefully.

I think Senator Lieberman, obviously, had a strong friendship and supported Senator McCain for president. But he is a Democrat. We're proud to have him in the party. And I hope he stays as a constructive member of our party.

KING: Was that surprising to you, Karen?

HUGHES: Well, I think now is the time that I hope that we can all try to rise above our partisan differences. We're going to have philosophical disagreements. And that's as it should be. And -- but that does not mean that we have to be disagreeable or petty or divisive.

And, yes, I understand that Senator Lieberman offended many Democrats when he so strongly supported his friend, Senator McCain. But he did so out of friendship, out of philosophical compatibility. He has been a life-long Democrat. I think he now lists himself formally as an Independent but caucuses with Democrats.

And I think that it would be a great sign -- a gracious way to begin the new administration to not have any retribution against him.

KING: Paul, what's the number one transition mistake to avoid?

BEGALA: Well, actually, I have to say, with this new team, so far, so good. I think one of the bigger mistakes that's been made in the past -- and, frankly, I think we made it in the Clinton transition -- is appointing your staff too late.

Mack McLarty was the chief of staff and I don't think he was empowered as early as Rahm Emanuel has been empowered by President- Elect Obama.

You know, the presidency is, as John Kennedy said, the vital center of our country. That's where you want policy to radiate from. You want -- you want strong people in the cabinet. And I'm told President-Elect Obama is very taken with Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln called "Team of Rivals," how he amassed the most talented people -- even some of whom didn't like him -- to put in his cabinet.

But no matter how strong your cabinet, the White House staff is going to drive this. I guess as an old White House staffer -- Karen and Mack being White House staffers -- we might be a little biased toward that view.

KING: Let me get a break.

MCLARTY: Now, Larry...

KING: Let me get a break and I'll pick up with Mack.

We'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: We only have a couple of minutes left.

Mack McLarty, if President-Elect Obama called you and said what one piece of advice would you give me for the transition, what would you tell him?

MCLARTY: I think for the transition, he needs to set the right tone for his incoming administration. The American people and people around the world are looking to him, of what is his vision for our country, where does he plan to take the country?

I think he's got to both settle people down here, get us focused on the right things and lay out his vision for the future. And I would also encourage him -- and he's already started to do this, Larry -- to really talk about a national purpose and working together in a bipartisan manner in the Congress. That's what the people want.

KING: Karen, what would you tell him?

HUGHES: Larry, I hope that he would govern as he campaigned, and that is with a centrist message and a sense of inclusion, reaching out to different points of view, balancing his cabinet. Obviously, he won the election. He's going have more Democrats than Republicans. But I hope he will seek to hear from different points of view and to try to have an administration that reflects the diversity of opinion in America. And that is where the American people are, which is primarily pretty pragmatic and pretty centrist.

KING: And Paul Begala, what would you say?

BEGALA: He needs to set our sights on the long-term. Larry. You know, we are inheriting the worst mess -- really, an economic catastrophe. And we're, frankly, at the beginning of it, not at the end. And this -- any -- I would banish any talk of 100 days the way FDR had his famous 100 days. Man, I'd fire anybody in my transition who used that phrase, 100 days.

I would have him call upon us to look at the very long view. This is going to take a year, two years or a whole term to try to fix, as the president-elect said in his very first speech as president-elect in Grant Park on election night.

KING: Thank you all very much -- Karen Hughes, Paul Begala, Mack McLarty.

Good seeing Mack again.

And we'll call on all of you quite frequently.

Michelle Obama has got a lot of decisions to make. She and her family are moving into the White House soon and her daughters have to change schools. That can't be easy. That's all next.


KING: A little domesticity here with another outstanding panel in a moment.

In New York, Lisa Caputo, who served as press secretary to first lady Hillary Clinton and deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton.

In Washington, Juleanna Glover served as press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney and deputy communications director for the 2000 Bush transition team.

And, also in Washington, Lily Copeland, staff writer with "The Washington Post."

Juleanna, how is this going so far?

JULEANNA GLOVER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Well, I think they're going off -- it's gone off to a very good start. I think all the talk, though, right now, about what school these kids are going to go to is utterly ridiculous. I do fundamentally believe that that's a very, very private decision between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Obama and those kids. And where they decide to send those children is something that should not be speculated at the height and hysteria that's going on right now.

KING: Lisa, isn't that correct?

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely, Larry. I mean we went through this with Chelsea Clinton. And there was sheer hysteria over where she was going to go to school. And I think we all remember what happened with Amy Carter on her first day of school.

I think that the Obama family has done a wonderful job so far really drawing a line in the sand around the girls' privacy. And it's very, very important that they continue to enforce that, obviously, and that the media respect it.

KING: And Libby Copeland, what's your two cents?

LIBBY COPELAND, STAFF WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think the cat may be out of the bag on this one. We're seeing a lot of reporting about the various schools. And, of course, Michelle Obama visited two of them today.

I think this is sort of symbolic of what people are looking at in terms of what they're expecting about how the Obama administration may change the social scene in Washington. People look at this for clues into other things that they can expect from the administration in terms of the city's life.

KING: And won't there be, Juleanna, a kind of pressure, being a black president, to put their children into public schools?

GLOVER: I don't know that I'd necessarily view that as pressure. In many ways, I would think of that as quite an opportunity. I mean we've got a president that seems to be very, very committed to improving the public school system in this country. And he's bringing his children into a public school system that is among the worst in the country.

Now, there are a number of very good public schools here in Washington, D.C. to which he could send those two girls. And, really, I do believe it would be such a powerful statement for him to send those girls to any of these public schools that would meet the standards for what the family is looking for.

KING: Lisa, they go to private



KING: Lisa, they go to private schools in Chicago.

Wouldn't it be maybe kind of smart -- politically smart -- to put them into public school?

CAPUTO: Well, I think it would absolutely make a statement. But I think we all have to remember that if you put a member of the first family in a public school, it makes it very hard to protect their privacy, because you're in public property. And when you're in a private school, it's very easy to forge a partnership with a private school administration and the White House and the first family to ensure that the children's privacy is protected and they can lead normal lives. It's not easy for the press to come into a school and -- that's a private school and wander the halls.

So I think that there are privacy considerations and there are, frankly, their security considerations will absolutely be factors in this equation.

KING: Libby, what do you think?

COPELAND: Yes, I just wanted to piggyback on that last thing that Lisa said. I mean, this is also a security issue. And if you look at, historically, where presidents have sent their children, historically they've been private schools.

As you mentioned, Larry, the children are already in private schools. So I don't think people will be terribly surprised if the Obamas do wind up keeping their -- their daughters in a private school. I don't think anyone will be shocked.

KING: By the way, Lisa, you were with Hillary Clinton tonight. She got some Woman of the Year award.

CAPUTO: Indeed. She was "Glamour" magazine's Woman of the Year. I just left the event to come over and be with you tonight and then I'm leaving you and hope to see her for dinner afterward.

KING: All right. Give us her -- give her our congratulations.

CAPUTO: I will. You know, Larry, I was reminiscing today, I must tell you. I was with Hillary Clinton when we made that first visit to the White House. And it was such an extraordinary moment. I heard your panel earlier talking about it -- Karen Hughes talking about going into the Oval Office. And I will never forget driving up on the South Lawn of the White House with then incoming First Lady Hillary Clinton.

And I turned to her in the limousine and I said, "Oh, my gosh, Hillary, I have sweaty palms."

And we were greeted by Mrs. Bush. And I remember getting out of the car and just -- it was just so overwhelming because the White House press corps were all there. They were shouting questions. And I turned and I looked at Hillary and we both said, "We're guests here."

And it was just an extraordinary moment to go in to the White House.

KING: In a moment, I'll ask the ladies what kind of first lady they think Michelle Obama will be.

Our blog question tonight -- will the way President Bush handles the transition to the Obama administration affect how we feel about him?

Sound off at Click on blog.

And we'll be back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska will join us Wednesday night.

Juleanna Glover, what kind of first lady do you think Michelle Obama will be?

GLOVER: I think she's going to be completely fascinating to watch. She seems to be a formidable, smart woman, an equal partner to her husband in so many ways, and someone who seems to be so deeply committed to making sure that those young ladies are raised properly and are raised, in many ways, that she and her husband were raised, toward -- with a goal toward being productive, moral, effective members of society.

And that's why it will be fascinating to see what she does with those children when she brings them to town, as well as what she does with the White House when she steps into there on January 20th.

KING: Libby?

COPELAND: I mean I think it's interesting because here's this highly symbolic, wonderfully highly watched position, unpaid, first lady. And this woman who, as my colleague Liza Mundy writes in her upcoming book on Michelle Obama, was the most ambitious woman at her law firm that her law firm had basically ever seen. And here she is sort of thrust into this very traditional role.

So it will be interesting to see, you know, how she sort of -- how she carries that out. She's said that she's not big into decorating and things like that. So it will be interesting to see how she sort of embraces the traditional and has also -- maintains her own sense of herself as her own person.

KING: Lisa, I know you are very close to Hillary Clinton. What does the senator think of Michelle?

CAPUTO: I think she's very fond of Michelle, has an enormous amount of respect for her, thinks she's brilliant and has such admiration for the way she's raised those two beautiful girls, who you can just see they are the product of great parenting. You know, Larry, I think it's interesting that we always continue to talk about what kind of role will an incoming first lady have. Will she define herself around an issue? There really isn't any kind of a stereotypical first lady.

I think Michelle Obama will bring to the role her own definition. She should. She will be true to herself in that role, just the way previous first ladies have been. And I really applaud her for saying that she's going to be mom in chief, because I think that tells the country where her priorities are and what her values are, which are on her family.

KING: Juleanna, is it an open budget? Can they redecorate anything? GLOVER: I don't think that they would want to redecorate much right now in this economy. It would just send the entirely wrong signal, especially if indeed they do decide to send their children to private schools here in Washington. Those can run 28,000 dollars per student. I just don't think you want to see the American people talking about how much money the Obamas are going to be spending.

However, just briefly, about the type of woman Michelle Obama will be in the White House; I think of her as this -- she in the second stage of her life. She was a strong professional woman first. Now she's a mom. She's in her mid 40s. By the time she leaves the White House, even after eight years, she will still be a very young woman and someone perfectly capable of going on to have a third and fourth stage in her life, under which she accomplishes even more professional goals.

She is someone who could run for office in her own right, very much following the Hillary Clinton model.

KING: Libby, journalistically, what is this going to be like to cover, this administration?

COPELAND: Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. You have seen obviously for the past two years that reporters are in love with the story. Much of the reason that Obama has gotten so much coverage has been because he's such an interesting story. And I think that Michelle Obama is a fascinating story. It will be interesting to have two kids in the White House. We'll be curious to see whether that leads to sleep-overs and will they be staying out late, or will they be going to bed early as Bushes did? My guess is that they will not go to bed as early as our current president does.

KING: We have a blog question tonight: "will the way that President Bush handles the transition to the Obama administration affect how you feel about him." Eve writes, "as a devoted Democrat, I do have a certain degree of disapproval of President Bush, so I do think I would feel a higher level of respect for him if he shows grace, dignity and the utmost respect for President Elect Obama." What do you think, Juleanna?

GLOVER: I think that's exactly right. I think that he's doing that now. I think the Bushes are entirely committed to having one of the most seamless and effective transitions in history. They've been working on this for months. I expect that they will handle it with personal grace and tremendous sophistication. When the Obamas step into the White House on January 20th, all their key staff will know exactly what needs to be done immediately, as will the president himself.

KING: Christina writes, "it looked to me like Bush was overjoyed to welcome the Obamas in to fill his shoes. His body language seemed to say thank goodness I'm out of here." Lisa, is there a little bit of truth in that?

CAPUTO: I don't know, Larry. This president has been through the ringer and back. At 27 percent approval, I'm sure he's ready to find the front door and get on with his post-presidential life. I will say that I think that he earned very high marks today, as did First Lady Laura Bush. They were incredibly gracious. I did hear from some of the Obama staff who said that they were just absolutely wonderful. And the White House staff in the residence was absolutely wonderful.

So I think that clearly the president is feeling the pain of the country. It will behoove him to work closely with President-Elect Obama.

KING: Lisa Caputo, Juleanna Glover and Libby Copeland, thanks a lot. Judge Judy is here -- thanks guys. Judy is here next.


KING: Always a pleasure to welcome her back to LARRY KING LIVE, Judge Judy. By the way, Judge Judy has a new DVD out. I'm holding it up, "Judge Judy, Second to None." There you see its cover. She presides over the top rated, Emmy nominated reality TV court show that bears her name. What's your reaction to the Obama election?

JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN, "JUDGE JUDY": It's exciting to be alive during that kind of political race, isn't it? I don't remember a race that was that excited since probably the '60s.

KING: Were you surprised?

SHEINDLIN: No. I don't think anybody was surprised. You and I spoke about this election well over a year ago. I think you asked me the question what did you think. It was shortly after the time that president-elect had announced his candidacy. I think I said to you that Jerry and I were on the treadmills together in Florida and we listened to it. It was the first time in a long time that I got goose bumps up my back, because he's eloquent and youthful and dynamic.

The whole process was a wonderful process. I don't see it, the vitriol that somehow we see a little more now than we did during the campaign. I didn't sense that anger and negative -- no, anymore than previous campaigns. I didn't. I think that, unfortunately, now I hear a lot of sour grapes coming from the Republican camp. And some of those leaks with regard to Sarah Palin I think are an abomination.

KING: There are those who said that a black couldn't be elected, that there would be the Bradley Affect. People would say they would vote for him but not. Did you at all accept that?

SHEINDLIN: I thought about it. But the more you listened to him -- and I like John McCain. I think that he's a stand-up guy. I think that we probably would not have been in any worse shape had he been elected president.

But I think there was a spirit even amongst those people who are my contemporaries and in my economic position, who know that it is going to cost them an extra couple bucks because this president plans on tapping us a little bit more, felt that the good of the country and the good of the world at this particular juncture in history was important to say, listen, this time we're not voting with our pocket books. I know a lot of people who said that. Those people weren't going to turn off once they got into the booth and closed that curtain.

KING: How long a honeymoon does he get?

SHEINDLIN: I think he gets a long honeymoon. I think that the media loves Barack Obama. I think that the print media, the electronic media love him, and are prepared to cut him an awful lot of slack. You saw that with the first conference that he had with the press. He made a couple of comments that perhaps he might not have made had he thought about them. The one of course with Nancy Reagan -- involving Nancy Reagan. He apologized right away, but nobody repeated it and repeated it and repeated it, and made a big deal about it. They said, listen, the guy made a mistake. He's going to make mistakes. Cut him some slack. And that's what we have to do. He's got a big job.

KING: What do you make the first lady to be?

SHEINDLIN: I think she's dynamite. I think she's smart, and I think that she's intellectually equipped for the job, which is a big job. I think she knows her man. She knows all of his strengths and she knows where he's got some clay in his feet. She's prepared to prop him up and to give him a poke, if he says something out of line. She says, quiet.

KING: She's his rock?

SHEINDLIN: I think she's a terrific lady. One thing that I -- I was listening to some of your previous guests and they said well, she's devoting her time -- this is the time she's devoting to mothering. I don't think necessarily that you have to do one or the other. That's something I take issue with. She has children now who are going to be school age. They're going to be away for five or six hours a day. I don't think she has to stay home and make cookies during that time. She is an intelligent woman with a lot to contribute.

KING: Of all the propositions in America -- there were hundreds -- Proposition Eight in California drew the most attention. We'll ask Judge Judy about that. We'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: By the way, if you have questions or opinions on Prop 8, you can blog us as well. Judge Judy presided over the marriage of Michael Feinstein, the noted cabaret entertainer, who is starring now in a Christmas show in New York, when he married his long time love interest, and they're a gay couple. And there was a proposition on the ballot in California that would cancel what was placed in by the Supreme Court that gays could get married. That proposition passed. That, in essence, threw out gay marriages. First, those who were married, are they OK?

SHEINDLIN: I believe they are. I don't see -- KING: Eighteen thousand.

SHEINDLIN: I don't see any scenario under which this proposition, which modified the Constitution of the state of California and said that a marriage is only between a man and a woman -- I don't think that you can ex post facto void the marriages that took place when the law was good.

KING: The governor shares your opinion. Governor Schwarzenegger, who has changed on this, now thinks that the Supreme Court can overturn the vote, because it's a denial of civil rights, and put it back into the Constitution that anyone can marry.

SHEINDLIN: Let's see what happens. Will it take it all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States?

KING: What did you think of the vote?

SHEINDLIN: I was saddened by the vote. I was as saddened by the vote here in California as I was in the state of Arkansas, which was equally an affront to both common sense and what I know, in my role as an old family court judge for 25 years, is not in the best interest of children. In the state of Arkansas, they said that no same-sex couple could adopt a child or foster parent a child.

KING: They didn't say that here?

SHEINDLIN: No, they didn't say that here, but they said that in the state of Arkansas. While they didn't specifically refer to gay couples, clearly it was directed toward gay couples. I know so many wonderful same-sex couples who are wonderful parents and wonderful foster parents to children. And why would you allow a children to remain in a foster care situation when there are lovely people prepared to offer them a home? I don't get it.

It's not to say I can't say that I don't respect those people whose religious beliefs suggest to them that this is not right. I think that we're entering an age in this country, through this president, where we should be engaged in tolerance. Just because -- 40 some odd percent of the popular vote voted for more conservative approach to government. You have to say that those people have a perspective, as long as they are not dogmatic, on either side. When I look at Prop 8 and I look at what happened in Arkansas, I say to myself, to me it's just plain wrong.

KING: The campaign was -- a lot of things were said that -- they said that ministers would be forced to marry gay couples. You can't force anyone.

SHEINDLIN: Of course not.

KING: We're going to take a break and come back with more with Judge Judy. What does she think of Sarah Palin. Judge Judy will tell us right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Governor Palin, who Anderson just mentioned, will be a guest on this program on Wednesday night. I know you voted for her opponent. What do you make of her?

SHEINDLIN: I think she's -- I think she's smart. I think she started from very humble beginnings. We heard her father speak. This was clearly -- she is probably an aberration in her family. She raised a family of her own. She became a mayor of a little town. Then she became a governor of a state in the United States. And anybody that thinks that this woman is stupid is just plain mean- spirited and wrong.

I think that if she had sought this job that was foisted upon her, and not prepared for it, that would be one thing. But I think she got a call one day and said, listen, we would like you to be vice presidential running mate in Alaska, where she was dealing with her kids, with a pregnancy. She was dealing with all kinds of things and not necessarily those things involving international politics, involving the national economy. And she walked into a situation, really pretty much cold. She took over a room and she took over -- that night she took over a country.

So you may have some issue as to whether she was ready to be vice president or ready to assume the office of president, were she called upon to do that. But to suggest that this is a stupid woman is just idiotic.

KING: Was the press unfair to her?

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I think they were. I think they looked for her to make mistakes. I think there was a certain gloating when that unfortunate prank was pulled on her with the president of France. I think instead of being outraged that somebody did something like that, as they would have been for another candidate, they sort of were snickering that she was so dumb that she fell for it, or that someone wasn't smart enough in her office to have put her on the phone.

I think there was a mean-spiritedness that I sensed. And I didn't vote for her. But there was a mean-spiritedness that I find objectionable, I don't know if it was because she was a woman. I don't know if she was a woman that came into the national attention after Hillary Clinton, who was a very popular woman, and there was a sense that maybe they were trying to change one woman out for another, which I think is sort of ridiculous. You can't do that with people. But I think she is a smart lady. I think she was underrated. I think she needs a little more time if she wants to get into the natural picture. But I think that the criticism and the vitriol and the mean- spiritedness have to stop. It's disrespectful.

KING: Judge Judy is our guest. Her DVD is out, "Judge Judy, Second to None," how true. We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHEINDLIN: I don't care if it was earlier in the night, or it was twilight and you were Peter Pan and you were on your way to never land. You had been drinking. You had a concussion, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, a fractured skull.

SHEINDLIN: Fractured skull. Maybe that's the reason why he's a little off. Why don't you work?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had an allergic reaction.

SHEINDLIN: An allergic reaction to what? Working?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you. You're the best.

SHEINDLIN: You're right. Get in line. There's a long line.


KING: The man loves you. That's from the DVD, "Second To None." Our guest is Judge Judy. Every time you're on, we get e-mails from people saying you should be on the Supreme Court. Did you ever aspire to that?

SHEINDLIN: No. If the truth be told, Larry, I really don't do well voting by committee.

KING: You wouldn't like to be one in nine?

SHEINDLIN: No. In family court, you're the matriarch. You are the final arbiter. I like to make the decision. If I'm listening to it, I like to make the decision.

KING: So, if you're blogging in, she ain't going to accept it, if asked. Norma, this is her blog -- Norma writes, "I'm a staunch supporter of public education, but I wonder if the Obama children should be home-schooled because their safety should be paramount." Thoughts?

SHEINDLIN: I think any child, if they are treated optimally, is treated to an education outside of the home, because there's certain socialization that you don't get if you're home-schooled. I think that the Obama children -- I think that they should probably continue in private school. That's where they have been in Chicago. It seems to me, there's no reason for the Obamas to say, listen, we're going to put our children in public school to make a statement. Your children have always been in private school. That's where they have been thriving, and that's where they should continue, if that's where you want to send them.

I don't think they have to be sacrificed for what looks good and feels good. I don't think this is a president who would do that. I think he thinks that his children deserve the best possible education, just like he got.

KING: Does Hillary stay in the Senate, take another job? SHEINDLIN: I think she's a real bright lady? What would she do?

KING: There's Supreme Court.

SHEINDLIN: Again, Supreme Court is ruled by committee. Hillary likes to make her own decisions. In the Senate, that's hard enough. But on the Supreme Court, you have nine people and if you're a junior justice, I don't think that's a place for her.

KING: Are you going to go to the inaugural?

SHEINDLIN: If invited, I would love to go.

KING: You've got clout.

SHEINDLIN: I have no clout. Do you want to take me?

KING: We can work it out.

SHEINDLIN: I would love to go.

KING: It's going to be the most historic inaugural --

SHEINDLIN: I remember my college graduation. JFK spoke at my college graduation. Yes. It was June, 1965.

KING: No, he died in '63.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, right, 1961, American University. And I remember he arrived by helicopter on the lawn of the university, and it was about 104 degrees in June. It was the most exciting experience.

KING: Wasn't that the famous American University speech?


KING: That's an historic speech.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, and it was thrilling to see him. And people may say that Obama is like Kennedy, but Kennedy was just a wonderful spirit. He never got a chance to do much in his short tenure as president. I think the country and the world has great hopes for this young man, who is brilliant and seems to have a good temperament.

KING: Amazing temperament.


KING: We only have 30 seconds left. How long are you going to keep on doing this?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know. Until they make me go into high definition, I guess.

KING: How long is your contract?

SHEINDLIN: Until 2013.

KING: That's nice.

SHEINDLIN: It's nice, 2013 is a long time.

KING: You're an amazing lady.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you. too.

KING: We always love seeing you.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Judge Judy. Don't forget the DVD called "Judge Judy, Second to None." Just from that clip, you want to get it. Blog with us at Tell us, will the way President Bush handles the transition to the Obama administration affect how you feel about him? Sound off, we're open all night. Don't forget about our quick vote question, our podcast, our photo galleries and other exclusive web features, and Sarah Palin will be here Wednesday night. Here right now is Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?