Tony Bennett: Obama is America's 'Greatest Accomplishment,' Not Sure if Fighting Hitler 'Justified'

Appearing as a guest on Monday's Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN, singer Tony Bennett declared that President Obama is the "greatest accomplishment that the United States ever came up with," and expressed admiration for the President whom he labeled as "more than intelligent."

A bit later, when asked by host Piers Morgan whether he believed war was ever "justified," with Morgan specifically asking if it was "imperative" to "defend yourselves" against Adolf Hitler in spite of the "collateral damage," Bennett, a World War II veteran, was not so sure:

That's a very difficult question because I think we should have a society of highly educated, intelligent people that will think realistically about how to do things. When I said to you earlier that the lowest form of nature is to kill someone, it's the lowest form of humanity, that's the bottom of the line. So we're actually intellectual cavemen at this point.

He continued:

No matter how much technical things we work out, we're still fighting. And it's my dream that some day we'll find out, everybody will  learn that what a gift it is to be alive and how we should cherish one another and appreciate one another.

Bennett's earlier praise of Obama had come as Morgan asked the singer if he thought he would ever see a black President in his lifetime:

PIERS MORGAN: Did you think then when Martin Luther King was assassinated, did you think in your lifetime, you would see a black President in America?

TONY BENNETT: I think it's the greatest accomplishment that the United States ever came up with. I think it's magnificent because he's not only an African-American, but he's, you know, I've always respected intellectual people, and he's an intellect.

MORGAN: He's intelligent.

BENNETT: He's highly, he's more than intelligent. He's very bright, highly bright..."

The two also addressed Bennett's recent controversial comments about the 9/11 attacks during an interview with talk radio host Howard Stern.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, october 10, Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN:

PIERS MORGAN: In the '60s, you became involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. You participated in the '68 Selma to Montgomery marches. Did you think then when Martin Luther King was assassinated, did you think in your lifetime, you would see a black President in America?

TONY BENNETT: I think it's the greatest accomplishment that the United States ever came up with. I think it's magnificent because he's not only an African-American, but he's, you know, I've always respected intellectual people, and he's an intellect.

MORGAN: He's intelligent.

BENNETT: He's highly, he's more than intelligent. He's very bright, highly bright, and I love the fact that this great country, it's a great step for humanity, for the world to learn that even though I love this country more than anything that could ever happen, it's kind of ahead of all the other countries, because instead of one philosophy, it has many. It has a great palette to choose from from  every society and every religion. That only happens in the United States.

MORGAN: It was very courageous of you to do what you did personally in the '60s, to go on those marches. It was a contentious thing to do. What was driving you at the time?

BENNETT: It's a dream of mine that some day the world will pick themselves up by their boot straps and better themselves, walk toward humanity, realize what a gift it is to be alive and to be on this planet, what a gift it is that we're alive.

MORGAN: How important for you in forming your character was fighting in the war? Because you saw some pretty heavy action. I mean, you were involved in the famous Battle of the Bulge, across France and to Germany and the U.S. Army from November 1944. You know, when I talk to people from that era, they always say that when you go to war, the stuff you experience, it shapes your character forever. And it gives you a sense of perspective on life that nothing else can. Was that how you felt?

BENNETT: Well, yes. It taught me, personally, it taught me that fighting, killing someone is the lowest form of human behavior.

MORGAN: But do you feel that war is ever justified?

BENNETT: Well-

MORGAN: When the allies took on the Nazis, when Adolf Hitler was trying to take over the world, and was clearly an evil man, is it not an imperative to then defend yourselves against someone like him, with all the collateral damage that comes?

BENNETT: That's a very difficult question because I think we should have a society of highly educated, intelligent people that will think realistically about how to do things. When I said to you earlier that the lowest form of nature is to kill someone, it's the lowest form of humanity, that's the bottom of the line. So we're actually intellectual cavemen at this point. No matter how much technical things we work out, we're still fighting. And it's my dream that some day we'll find out, everybody willlearn that what a gift it is to be alive and how we should cherish one another and appreciate one another.

MORGAN: You've run into trouble with Howard Stern. And you're not the first to do that, by the way.

BENNETT: On a daily basis.

MORGAN: You got into trouble. You made comments that on the face of it seemed quite inflammatory about 9/11 and so on. Was that really the point you were making?

BENNETT: Yes.

MORGAN: Is it really, you have to value life higher than everyone in the modern world appears to be valuing it? All governments appear to be involved in some kind of conflict, war or whatever.

BENNETT: Oh, gosh, understand that we're all on this planet, and we only have one quick life. It's only a hundred years. If we're lucky we live a hundred years. We should realize what a gift that is to be alive.

MORGAN: What does it mean to you to be an American?

BENNETT: Well, America, to be an American is you're ahead of everybody on the planet. It's the first country where it's not one philosophy, but many, many philosophies. And it's one of the things that we should celebrate, the fact that there are all different religions, every different nationality. And we should cherish the best of every religion and every nationality. We should cherish it. And it's much more creative to live that way than to have one philosophy and this is how we do it. With all the other countries, that's the way it is.

MORGAN: It's strange to think there are lots of people out there that would actually directly oppose that kind of ambition. And they do.

BENNETT: It's a matter of education.

MORGAN: I think you're right. I think you're right. I think if the money put into warfare was put into education around the world, it would be a very different world, right?

BENNETT: Absolutely.