April 5th, 2009
04:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Axelrod hits back at Cheney: Not behaving like a 'statesman'

(CNN) - Top Obama adviser David Axelrod sharply criticized Dick Cheney's recent contention that the president's national security policies have made the country less safe, suggesting the former vice president is not behaving like a "statesman."

[President Bush] has behaved like a statesman," Axelrod told CNN's John King on State of the Union regarding the former president's decision not to criticize the new administration. "And as I've said before, here and elsewhere, I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

In an interview on State of The Union last month, Cheney said the president’s decision to reverse a series of the Bush policies with respect to the war on terror was putting the country's national security at risk. (Video below)

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," he said then. "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles…"

But in the interview Sunday, Axelrod suggested the Bush Administration terrorism policies had largely failed.

"I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they're still plotting against us eight years - or seven years later," he said. "I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?"

Cheney's blunt criticisms of Obama have differed markedly with comments for President Bush, who in a recent speech said the new president "deserves my silence."

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president said during a speech in Canada last month.

Filed under: David Axelrod • Extra • State of the Union
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. Ann

    I liked it and I was more happy the way John King removed him from the screen quickly.......lol!

    April 5, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Ken Sawyer

    Would anyone in their right maind invest in a company run by this administration or put their personal security in their hands? Welcome to a third world government who in the end owns everything including the national wealth.

    April 5, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Cheney you are a failure

    you failed us many times, most recently the last 8 years

    rather than fill up some of the 24 hours of mindless tv cable news

    how about sliping quietly into the night and retire to a beach, get a tan and a drink with an umbrella

    you, Rove, Bush, Rush have done enough damage

    April 5, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. frank

    John King is a republican who can not help it with his wife Danna Bash. I just liked it the way David Axerold hit back. It was awesome even though he was quickly removed from air........

    April 5, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Rush

    Did Dick Cheney get the memo. I think John King needed one from American people that we moved on!

    April 5, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Lynn

    John King is carrying the Republican water as usual. When was Cheney EVER a statesman?? He is a Haliburton crony and a war monger and I find him to be very arrogant!!

    April 5, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. jj

    I love our new President. The US has regained it footing on the world stage again.

    April 5, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. coolDummy

    It is sometimes disheartening to see the way these Republicans are acting.All the programs Obama has is for the benefit of the American people but yet,some people,because of personal interests and political positioning will just open their mouths and say anything they like without considering the effect of their outburts.Dick Chenney is supposed to be a man of stature but he is behaving more like a child.Meghan McCain is definitely more intelligent and sensible than this ex-vice president who does not know when to keep quiet and when to talk.

    April 5, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Tom

    General Petreaus when asked about Cheney's comment: "I don't agree with that assessment".

    April 5, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Kim, Dallas, TX

    I completely agree with this comment by Axelrod.....

    "I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they're still plotting against us eight years — or seven years later," he said. "I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?"

    How can torture and holding prisoners without charges indefinitely make us safer? We are finding that other countries are doing this to our own citizens now and citing Gitmo as the reason. I am so glad that we have come back to reality and appreciation of the Geneva convention. The eight years of GW and Cheney were some of the most corrupt ever!

    April 5, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Bev

    The Democrats are behaving so predictably. They are STILL hashing out over a statement made over a month ago. They are going to milk the "blame Bush" crowd as long as they can...but it's getting very, very, old.

    April 5, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Matt

    Axelrod is a political hack. His comments in his interview are illogical.

    So because terrorism threats are not completely abolished that means the Bush/Cheny terrorism policies have failed? That's an illogical argument. That's like saying our attack of nazism in WW2 failed because they're still nazi's around.

    Everything Axelrod says should be discounted, since he's just a liberal hack in this administration. And all you liberal hacks should get a clue as well.

    April 5, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. Jennifer

    How ironic that John King gives the softest of softball questions to all the Republicans, but the moment a Democrat hits back, they get yanked off the air...

    April 5, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Death Penalty for Treason

    Cheney is a war criminal and committer of treason, not a "statesman".

    April 5, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. independent liberal

    I find it hard to believe Cheney is not in jail, yet.

    April 5, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. foxrun

    David Axelrod forgets that we have not been attacked since 9/11. In fact, it was the Clinton administration that had intelligence that suggested that an attack on the U.S. was eminent.

    Mr. Cheney is right to criticize Mr. Obama's comments on America. You never go abroad and condemn your own country. It is as if Obama believes that he is still on the campaign trail, but instead of running for the President of the United States: he's running for the President of the socialist world.

    To call America "arrogant": he is right. We are and should be arrogant. We pulled the world out of a tremendous world war and returned many people to their homelands. The world has always looked to the U.S. to fuel its economies, heal its sick and to protect its people. Why should we be respectfully arrogant?

    I think it’s more about being proud. We are missing this today in America and it isn't going to improve with this President.

    April 5, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |

    Why are we even concerned with anything that Cheney has to say?
    He is half responsible for the predicament that this country is in.
    Obama is our President now, he is doing a fine job of trying to fix what the last administration broke!
    I support our President!

    April 5, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. Marie

    Who is this Dick Cheney they speak of???? He is so 20th century.....The US stature in the world has risen dramatically since Nov 4, 2008 and was just solidified this past week during Obama's trip abroad. The old school Republicans need to come to the realization that the high speed rail change train has left the station and is moving fast so they should hang on for the ride or get out of the way.

    April 5, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. SK

    Axelrod criticizing an anti-terrorism policy that batted a 1000%? Stating that just because terrorist organizations still and continue to plan terrorist acts around the globe is proof of failure with respect to Bush's anti-terrorism policies?

    The last time I checked, Bush's policies were to protect and defend the United States, NOT the entire globe.

    April 5, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Penn Voter

    And this is news?

    When did he ever act like a statesman?

    Expecting Cheney to act like a statesman is like expecting North Korea to act like a civilized nation.

    It ain't gonna happen.

    April 5, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. Terry - California

    Dick Cheney was the "puppet master" who introduced the "new world torture techniques" all for the good of America. The Bush Administration permitted the "rape and pillage" of our Financial System by friends on Wall Street, and when the crash of the Financial System was close, the Bush Administration permitted Wall Street to manipulate Oil Futures in an attempt to make back billions of dollars already lost. The Freedom of Information Act will provide access, much sooner than later, of the covert acts of the Bush Administration. Dick Cheney is not now, nor will he ever be, a "statesman".

    April 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Logic

    Cheney is about as relevant as Sarah Palin. Two failures, clinging to failed ideologies, trying to point to other's people's failures. Both will reside in the ashbin of ruthless republican partisan history.

    April 5, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. David

    Let's look at history... they were caught off guard by Al Qaeda on 9/11 despite an intelligence briefing indicating covert operations were running and despite numerous on the ground reports of Arabs who were in the country illegally training to fly airplanes. They were caught off guard when they spent $400 billion to get rid of a dictator that had nothing to do with terrorism against the US. Chucklehead was photographed playing a banjo in Crawford TX while a hurricane was swamping New Orleans. They were caught off guard by the downfall of major investment firms who were more interested in short term profits than long term stability despite warnings in 2002 that there were strange bad and unethical things being done in the world of finance and accounting. Are these really the sort of people you want predicting the future of our country? Are they worth any attention at all?

    April 5, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. anthony n.

    A former vice-president does not have to observe any protocal of silence. Chenney is one of the most reasoned and experienced person in this country to critique the Obama admin. The tax and spend policy of this admin already saddles every man and woman and child more than a hundred thousand dollars worth of debt. Is that security?

    April 5, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. Tom P.

    If I'm not mistaken, Carter and Clinton themselves were not any better "behaving statesman".

    April 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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