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. Daniel, Atlanta, GA, ex-republican

    For ALL Republicans who complain about Obama; grow up! The GOP/RNC is the party of right-wing extreme Christianity that borders on siding with the KKK. Cheny, Rove, Rush, and their cronies have destroyed the dignity and confidence of this country. Obama is restoring America's image and confidence in the world.

    I am glad I am an EX-REPUBLICAN!

    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. R.R.

    First off, I am a Republican, I voted to Bush, but I did not think McCain was the right man for the job this time, hence I voted for Obama. This country needs serious help. Neither financial times nor terror threats care about who is in office. The fact is that there have been lies over the years concerning real threats, weapons that did not exist and so on. Its over, so lets just go on and learn from our mistakes because we can't change the past. The fact is that the intelligence stunk or somone lied...you pick it. If someone really wanted to kill a lot of people, or blow up a building, there are 1000 ways to do it...its not about that...its about a group of people in this world that do not like us like a big bully...As far as Cheney goes, the man is old, he needs to just fade away into the sunset to Wyoming... I used to like listening to him talk but as he got older, his views changed. I remember when he spoke at Henry Hyde's fundraiser (RIP)...he said China was his big fear...not some knucklehead from the middle east...as far as him being a Statesman...he was never a statesman...he was a bully. As far as Bush goes...I think he was uninformed and made decisions with second string quarterbacks at his side...I thought the second time around that might change...clearly it did not...Lastly, this country does not need a mud slinging contest between the old administration and the new...that just opens old wounds and is clearly not in our best interest...so since we are the ones paying for your lifestyles not, it is real simple..."Kids....if you don't stop it, you can go to your room and you'll be grounded for a week!"

    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Tom

    Oh, this "take away liberties" thing is a real winner also.

    How many of you PERSONALLY know anybody that has been affected by having their "liberties" taken away by Bush?

    I've only heard of one American citizen that has been affected by these laws. I read about it in the newspaper. Some guy went to the library and used the library computer to look at kiddie porn on the internet and he was arrested because the library now monitors their computer uses because of one of Bush's "liberty" laws. Before Bush's law, he would have been able to do that with impunity.

    You know anybody that has been negatively affected by their liberties being taken away?


    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. Brian

    @matt – I'd like to see the source of your quote that Obama said "the economy has not been this bad since the great depression, we need to cut spending." I highly doubt he said that or anything like that in regard to Federal spending (and no, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh do not count as "sources"). Only the Republicans have been dumb enough to trot that line out. It's as if the lessons of the Hoover administration have been completely forgotten by them...

    April 5, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Old White Virginia Female

    This is one time Bush's tactic of "do nothing" is actually appropriate. I applaud him in this instance. I am sure he still thinks he is right, but for Chaney or Bush to try to now tell the American people that their course was the best one would be continuing to march to the beat of a very, very different drummer than the rest of not only the U.S. but the world, as witnessed during President Obama's trip!

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. steve

    Cheney is a salesman/cheerleader for the defense industry: His comments come as a surprise ?

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Paul Ohio

    If Cheney is not a statesmen, what does that make Jimmy Carter? He was an actual President and all he did the whole time was criticize a sitting President for 8 years. What about Al Gore, He also criticized Bush every step of the away on the environmental front. Obama's people are just distracting us from his failed trip to Europe, diverting news away from the fact that he could not get any combat troops for Afghanistan and that the Europe will not spend any more to stimulate the global economy because they have already maxed out their credit card.

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. John

    So it was ok for President cCrter to speak his mind during Bush admin, but not for vice president Cheney eh? Typical.
    Know the biggest difference between republicans and dems? Dems hoped for bush to fail, no matter the cost to the country. Most republicans hope Obama succeeds, becuase they care about their country.

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Bill

    Bush is "acting like a statesman" because he wants to withdraw from the scene as quietly as possible, letting his critics focus on Cheney. Bush said that the new president "deserves my silence." Bush knows that he could never match wits with Obama and that he has no credibility. It is in Bush's self-interest to remain silent. That is his reasoning; his motive is not to be a statesman.

    April 5, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Chris

    Greg said: "During President Bush's administration we were not hit by a terrorist attack."

    Did you miss that whole 9/11 thing?

    April 5, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Carl

    Cheney needs to be turned over to the Spanish court which is preparing to indict him and other top Bush officials for war crimes. The only person that stands between him and a trial in The Hague is President Obama. Bush is smart to keep his mouth shut. Cheney is not as bright... Who can blame our new president for throwing Cheney under the bus and saving Bush. Also, Cheney is guilty of treason for outting an undercover CIA agent...and just recently...for undermining Obama to our Israeli allies. He told them that the then president elect was pro-Palestinian and would not support Israel. This neo-con super hawk...who was a chicken hawk during the Vietnam war with 5 deferments...needs to be caged and muzzled. His involvement with the torture of prisoners at Gitmo and the foreign rendition of terrorist suspects needs to be fully investigated. He is a disgrace to public service and has brought shame and disrespect to the office of the vice president.

    April 5, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. John

    Can current administration do no wrong?

    Can previous administration do no good?

    Current administration sounds very similar to the Chinese Communist Party at 1949 when they just started; demonized the rich, share the wealth of others, while every body wants to be rich, and opposition is destined to be Tiananmen-Squared.

    The time when the direction of Communist Chinese is leaning and marching toward the direction of Capitalist America, the American is going back to the trail where the Communist Chinese started.

    Lesson will be learned only when we actually experience it.

    April 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Gary

    First of all, Cheney is just a bitter old man yelling out his window to the Obama administration to get off his lawn! He's just a fraction of many probs the repub party have. They all should be on bended knee thanking Prez Obama for being so willing to clean up the tsunami of a mess they left behind. Cheney and his followers who take what he says as meaningful, are useless and only make our Prez's job that much tougher. They spout off about "being real Americans" but they would rather have America fail so they can return to power, than support the opposing party now in power. These people would take the last life boat on a sinking ship, while leaving women and children behind, to salvage their bitter agenda. The repubs still cant come to the table with solutions, just sour grapes. This includes their supporters.

    April 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Chuck-Texas

    I'm supprised that anyone is still taking Dr. Evil seriously. Anyone with a brain should recognize what Dick Chaney is by now. My God !!! When he puts that black hat on that he wears, along with his black suit, he looks exactly like what he really is. Hell, he even talks out of the left side of his mouth.

    April 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |

    CHENEY deserves NO respect or even a mention in the media!
    He and Bush should be in jail!
    Anyone who supports them is as crazy as they are.
    The last eight years are proof that they did not have a clue what they were doing, and look at the end result!
    I support President Obama.

    April 5, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Ray

    I simply love reading all of the hate for the previous president and the new president. Both were legally elected. I think both did/will do what they believe is in the best interest of our country. Both men have very different beliefs as do Americans in general. This hatred of one party or the other and the doom and gloom of each party in power is nothing new. Do I think we did the right thing in each and every instance, no I do not. Do I believe that all presidents at some point get bad or misinformation, yes I do. Presidents are elected as all posts are up to the President to accept or change at his discretion. But all individuals below the cabinet level or head of a department are long term employees with their own political ideologies. I think we need to understand that fact and to expect more of everyone collecting a paycheck from our taxes.

    April 5, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. HeckSpawn

    Of course Cheney isn't a statesman. He's retired, just like AlGore is. Cheney has just as much right to speak out against the Administration as Gore did against Bush...

    April 5, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. jbm

    So many people out there that can only regurgitate what the biased liberal media has told them for the last 8 years instead of actually looking at the facts. Do many of you actually have the capability to do a little research on your own and come up with your own conclusions instead of just repeating the talking points of the left? No wonder we are in the situation we are in...truly sad that so many lack any cogniti

    April 5, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Leslie

    Whether he is right or wrong about Cheney (and I was never a big fan of the VP), the Obama administration better start looking to themselves for accountability. The blame game can only go one for so long.

    April 5, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. ED from Fl

    I am glad Mr Chenney has a freedom of speech that he and Rove tried to take away from the many of us, unless you subvert the Government the way he did. I am glad he has been compared to O.J. , but I think that is to light a comparison.
    The true Bush doctrine is being erased finally "fear is the only thing we have to rule this counrty"
    Obama has gone back to Roosevelt "all we have to fear is fear itself"
    Fear is not terrorism it is the people who make it worse namely the republican party. Who since thier inception has used fear to get elected.

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. fed up with the dick

    First of all, let's remember that Cheney claimed years ago that the Iraq insurgents were "in their last throes" and who also just claimed that the Bush/Cheney administration accomplished what they sought out to do in Iraq. Why should anyone believe him at all??
    Secondly, his criticism of the incoming Obama presidency to Israel was treasonous.
    Thirdly, Cheney must be indicted and tried for all the crimes he has committed, and may still be committing, for the sake of the country's future.
    And finally, let's call it like it is: Cheney is a cowardly, greedy, vindictive war profiteer and war criminal.

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. Bruce & Joan, Naples, Florida & Olathe, KS

    My wife and I strongly supported and worked to have Barack Obama president. We are so proud of the way our new president has lead our nation! To read that Mr Welch, a very important leader in business, express his impressions that "give high marks to Obama" makes our day.

    April 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Ron Doles

    I only want to know two numbers from Cheney. What was his net worth when he became vice-president and what is it now? Since he handpicked his Haliburton for exclusive contracts in Iraq, I guess that I already know the answer. War is great for business.

    April 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. Mike

    Note the overwhelming number of readers think that Cheney should be tried and convicted. That isn’t the liberal media – these are our fellow citizens of every political persuasion. The Cheney-Bush supporters are blinded by ignorance; they don't (or, worse, do) recognize that the entire Bush-Cheney reign was all about raiding the US treasury and borrowing trillions from future generations enrich their friends and attempt to solidify their manic thirst for power. History shall recognizes this will and permanently enshrine this as the greatest theft in the history of the world – those are the crimes of which these evil people a guilty and they will be sentenced in every history book to come.


    April 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Brett

    Cheney did more harm to this country than any other individual in the history of this country. He essentially raped this country with impunity and enriched his friends (and himself) to an extent that will shock people as the truth eventually comes out. He isn't a patriot, he is a thief and a traitor.

    April 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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