Krugman: Obama One Of The Most "Consequential Presidents" In Modern History

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JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: You're offering the most full-throated defense of Obama from basically anybody who is not on the Obama payroll right now.

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And it's funny, because I was critical. But that's the point, in a way. People who had this idea that Obama was going to bring a transformation of America I thought were being naive, but my god we got health reform, we got a significant financial reform. We are getting the environmental action is not everything you would have wanted, but it's more than anyone else has done for decades.

KARL: So put it in context, what are you saying? He's one of the most successful -- FDR, are you putting him in that category?

KRUGMAN: No, FDR is in a different league, right.

KARL: OK, so where are you putting him?

KRUGMAN: In the end, Reagan did not leave the structure of American society particularly different. He did not, in fact, change the basic legacy of Lyndon Johnson and FDR. I think if my ranking of consequential presidents, at least in modern history, would probably be FDR, LBJ, Obama and then Reagan.

KARL: So, Leon Panetta, who serves as both the CIA director and his Pentagon secretary says that Obama too often relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader. Does Panetta have a point?

KRUGMAN: I am allergic to this kind of does he have the leadership quality thing--

KARL: Well, this is an important thing when it comes to a president.

KRUGMAN: Obama is pretty professorial. I've had a couple of meetings and I and other academics are there and sometimes think, oh, he's more professorial than we are. But look at -- again, look at what he did.

Bill Clinton is an incredibly gifted politician. Bill Clinton is a room and it doesn't matter how many people are in the room, you think he's talking to you. But in fact Bill Clinton was not a consequential president. And Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, he is a consequential president.

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