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. One of 58 Million

    I simply cannot believe that Dick Cheney had the audacity to question the Obama adminstration,. Isn't that treason? Can't we send him into exile or something? Come on people, this Week's trip to Europe should have made it clear that foreign leaders are playing the President like a violin. All smiles and kind words, but no real suppoprt. Popularity does not equal effectiveness.

    April 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. John

    I'm more scared of people like Cheney.

    April 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Patrick, Lake Stevens, WA

    I disagree with for former vice president’s comments on John King’s program. They were clearly improper and served no purpose for a solution to fighting terrorism. However, I do not think David Axelrod’s statement which very well suggests that the former administration’s policies failed to eliminate Islamic extremism is an accurate assertion because no one can eliminate an ideology.

    April 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. jim

    What qualifies Axelrod to judge statesmanship.

    April 5, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Fan of Common Sense

    So, basically, anyone who dares open their mouth and criticize the current administration and its idiotic policies is NOT a statesman.

    None of the incompetent dimwits in the current administration are worthy of shining Dick Cheney's shoes......and that includes the head dimwit.

    April 5, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Kim

    On 9/11/2001 the US suffered the worst terrorist attack in history on its soil. Do you all remember that day? Do you remember being afraid? Wanting to pull your kids out of school? Do you remember the anthrax scare after that? People were afraid to open their mail. People were very afraid of another attack on a school, in a mall, in a neighborhood. We thought this was the start of WWIII. Has America been attacked since then? Enough said.

    April 5, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. David

    Did everyone forget it was the Bush /Chaney team that ignored memos regarding a potential attack, and did you all forget we were attacked on the Bush/Chaney watch. Talk about safe, give me a break. You can not have a strong defense without a strong economy and where did the last administation leave us, they left us broke

    April 5, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Mike

    Dick Cheney is no statesmen. He undermined our president in public, therefore he undermined our country. Shame on him.

    April 5, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. German,Irish American

    Talk about hypocrisy, how many times did you hear Bush whine about the recession and the depleted military left to him by President Clinton? Obama can't open his stupid mouth, minus the teleprompter, without blaming Bush, and Americans who don't bow down to him and make their nose brown, for eveything that is wrong in the world. When will this teleprompter in chief just shut up and stay home?

    April 5, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Are you people for real?

    I'm a conservative and don't care for Dick Chaney. With that said, I see nothing wrong with his comments and opinions. I share some of his concern. Just like many of you that post here, you have the right to speak your mind, and so does he. Sounds like a democracy to me.

    After reading dozens of your posts, I need to know: Which of those with liberal tendancies actually have a job? Which of you have your hand sticking out?

    The American Dream is dying....

    April 5, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. David

    I think it was former Vice Presint Al Gore who set the precedent. He was highly critcal of the Bush Adminstration after he lost the 2000 election. So I gess it is OK for Cheney to be critical of the Obama administration.

    April 5, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Mojo

    Its not about Republicans or Democrats its about doing the right thing. Regardless if you voted for Obama or not he is our President and we need to support him and try to get us out of this mess. He neither created these problems or started them but he is going to fix them. Cheney supports big companies making money and our brothers sisters and neighbors are dying as we speak on foreign soil because of this. Because of the greed of the few we are now all paying for not standing up as a community.

    April 5, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Scott

    Cheney is a coward. He has never had the courage to stand up, pick up a weapon, and defend the things he supposedly believes in. His 7 deferments during the Vietnam war are a perfect example of this. As with many cowards, he takes his fear out on anyone around him. He employs hit squads that report on to him. He sanctions torture. He starts unnecessary wars. He shoots defenseless animals (and his friends due to his excellent level of expertise with weapons). All this is not to keep America safe, it is simply an attempt to hold back his personal fears. Most dictators are cowards and if Mr. Cheney had his way, he would take away our freedoms in the name of "protecting" us... oh wait, he already did that.

    April 5, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. lash larue

    Cheney has his right to his opinion, So why is Axlerod so upset,unless what Cheney said is true?..Obama's inexperience is truly showing,closing Gitmo,and now releasing 17 Terrorist in California and giving them Tax Payers funds to start a new life with,Does not make much sense...Pelosi should have ask they be sent to New York City,and spared San Fran.

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. landolincoln

    According to Biden, its patriotic to criticize anyone in power as long as their a republican. Now that the republicans are out, it must no longer be in fashion to question any decisions made by the president. How far we've come when Cheney, a private citizen can no longer express an opinion.

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Sean

    I'm a centrist that voted for Obama. However Bush-Cheney did a few things right. The most important of these very few accomplishments was keeping terrorists away from US soil. Obama needs to be careful and not get too wide eyed and naive about treating suspected terrorists. This is a war and strong actions need to be taken about the radicals. if that means they get shuttered somewhere amongst other drastic actions, sometimes we have to do it. So let's get too far down the daisy path and handle this with kid gloves. Remember there is a war out there against Al Qaeda and they will just as soon cut off your head if they can catch u.

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. T.Mack

    The World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists, and Bill Clinton CAUGHT THEM and protected us from further homeland attacks for the rest of his presidency. It was Bush and Cheney who slept on the job and allowed 9/11 to occur. To keep claiming "they kept us safe" is a hollow lie echoed by the mainstream media.

    April 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Pat Sawicki

    Mr. Axelrod, it would be nice if President Obama were as much of a statesman as President Bush–and stopped blaming everything on Bush. He shows no class when he continues to do so.

    April 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Iceburg

    It is the democrats that are tearing this country apart. It was not Bush who failed. Bush "inherited" the housing market back from Clinton's days where it all began. The war in Iraq was voted in approval by just about everyone looking at the information that was given. Lets see if Obama can fix the current situation, but I think he will just make it worse. He will blame it all on Bush anyway.

    April 5, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Sarge

    Cheney just needs to have a massive heart attack and die for the sake of this country...PERIOD...............................

    April 5, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. Missy in KY

    Cheney is one of the reasons the USA has so many enemies. This is oblivious and always has been. Go away, clueless!

    April 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. SurRy

    Can someone please explain (again) why Cheney, Bush, Rove, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et. al are not at the Hague yet?

    April 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. kenny

    During Obama's swearing in, when Dick Cheney was in that wheel chair...all I could think of was how much he reminded of of Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life" LOL

    April 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. Casey

    He never behaved like one when in office... why would you expect him to do differently now?

    You can't teach old dogs new tricks.

    And CNN, John King's show is awful... I would much rather watch This Week or Meet The Press, even though I can't stand David Gregory.

    King lets too much of his own politics (like Gregory) show through.

    April 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. End Of An Error

    It's amazing to me that Dick Cheney – the man that husbanded CIA reports and cherry-picked the information supposedly linking Iraq to the 9/11 attacks – would try to argue anyone else could make this country less safe.

    Under Bush and Cheney, this country has wasted trillions of dollars, lost thousands of American lives, and wounded and maimed tens of thousands more American soldiers.

    Meanwhile, we have created a country that has a real reason to hate the USA for ruining their lives, killing their families, and destroying their cities. We have justified the hatred of America to millions of Iraqis. Bush and Cheney made Al Qaeda stronger – not weaker.

    Dick Cheney doesn't have a leg to stand on in criticizing the Obama administration. Bush and Cheney did the real damage to this country and then walked away – leaving us in an impossible situation.

    Dick Cheney should take the advice that he gave Senator Patrick Leahy in 2004.

    April 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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