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. Rob

    Cheney is using his former gig to speak up on issues he feels are important, the same way Gore does – the problem is the two of them never shut up.

    April 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Alsosprach

    This Republican idea that the Obama administration is somehow proactively taking over these American companies is absurd. The companies came to us, on they knees beginning for a handout. But instead of a handout, they are being forced to lose equity. That is how it should work. When this happens in the private sector, it is just called a merger or buyout.

    But remember, it was the Republican excessive deregulation that caused the market manipulations that lead to this in the first place.

    I am all for conservative management of the government (but not the bedroom). I wish the Republicans had actually done that, instead of lining their crony's pockets.

    April 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Simmy

    Happy to note that intelligence still reigns on this blog. It is encouraging to know that I am not the only one who sees the blatant pro 'Cult of Criticism' slant in John King's interviews. He throws out questions that are nothing more than his opinions against President Obama, and waits for his Republican guests (Cheney ) to catch the bait, and run with his (King's) message. Axelrod was ready for his biased games. He was instrumental in helping President Obama win, so he was too strong for King's weak ploys. His presence was too intimidating for King, therefore he abruptly let him go. What a display of non-class. He (King) is not suited for prime time. He belongs on Fox along with the crying man, Glenn Beck. Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash and a few others can join him. CNN is becoming a third world network. But I do like their blog.

    April 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. jim love

    In my opinion Cheney has just one admirable quality: consistency. He has consistently disregarded the supremacy of constitutional principles in government, he has consistently acted as if the governance of the US is none of our business and he has consistently promoted military and policy goals that may yet be the ruin of this country. He has had his eight years and he has done his damage. The media is to blame for this story. They should simply stop putting reporters and microphones in front of him.

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. gewe

    like everthing about dick chenny its the haliburton contracts he worrys about

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |

    the US is now viewed as the whimp of the Universe...do you think that for one minute N. Korea would be able to launch a "POSSIBLE" Nuclear missle right in our eye...just like N. Korea spit at us and we did nothing about it. To deny this is insane thinking!

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Don Walter

    Could it be that Bush is using Cheney as a fall guy so that he can look good to the public or is Cheney just totally delusional or perhaps in the early stages of Altzheimers? Actually, Bush's position if sincere is the only honorable thing he's done since he was elected.

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. bruce morningstar

    Let's face it, Cheney is not an American. He is a profiteer who benefitted from Al Qaeda. They did not keep us safe in their tenure. We were attacked while Cheney was in office. So what if we had seven years thereafter. Cheney should just shut up since he never says anything of substance. Better yet, keep GITMO open and send Cheney and his family there for the rest of their lives.

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Honorable Kansas Vet

    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.

    Bush blamed Clinton and eveyone before him for evert difficulty he came across during the ebtire 8 years of his adminstration.

    April 5, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. Joe - NJ

    How could Cheney talk about security? 9/11 happened on their watch because of the incompetence of his administration. He's still a delusional fool! We never needed The Homeland Security Agency. What we needed were the existing agencies to start working together and for the Secretary of State to not ignore important memos and warnings from these agencies. So much for small government. Isn't that what the Republican'ts are all about? Yea right!

    April 5, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Alfred E. Neumann

    Statesman? neither Cheney nor the aide Axlerod fit that definition.

    April 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Rene

    Let's see how much credibility Cheney has: Using his position while in the Bush administration for economic gain (HALLIBURTON); responsible for detaining and keeping individuals at Gitmo for years without trial or legal counsel but with plenty of TORTURE (complete and utter disrespect for the Geneva Conventions); responsible for the use of ILLEGAL wiretapping of US Citizens in our country.(complete disrespect for the United States Constitution); a WAR MONGER...........GIVEN ALL OF THIS AND MORE, IT IS ABSOLUTELY LAUGHABLE HOW ANYONE COULD FIND ANY WORD THAT COMES OUT OF THIS PATHETIC FAILURE OF A FORMER PUBLIC SERVANT'S MOUTH, TO BE ANYTHING BUT WORTHLESS HOT AIR. Bravo to President Obama and his administration for demonstrating transparency in our presidency as has been shown thus far, and for turning the tide of world opinion of the US from disdain to whole-hearted support (Turkey, for example) – a far cry from the veil of dark secrecy shown in the shady Bush presidency and ridiculous stupidity of Cheney himself......

    April 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Isaac

    I dont believe CNN waset time talking with this clown. Cheney mislead the country. he is the one got us in this mess we facing now. tell this clown go away. We certainly dont want him. It is over

    April 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. 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 argu anyone else could make this country less safe.

    Because of Bush and Cheney's dogged determination to go to war with Iraq, 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 given Al Qaeda a reason to be and justified their hatred of America to millions of Iraqis.

    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. Cheney should take the advice that he gave Senator Patrick Leahy in 2004 – the same infamous quote that was so eloquently handed back to him in Gulfport, Mississippi in 2005 by an unknown hero.

    April 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Vinnie

    I did not vote for Obama because he did not know what he talking about. I can see our economic getting better. Also, Obama has been broken his promises, and I feel not safe at all with him. You will see, he wont' make any better for us, just only getting worst.
    1 – Obama said: " he will bring troops home; now he is sending 21,000 to overseas".
    2 – Jobs are outsourcing more (up to 8.5 now).
    ...wake up peoples!

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. Carl

    This country was only attacked once on our soil. Just once. Who was Vice President at that time? Who is the only Vice President to be asleep at the wheel, resulting in such dishonor? These are facts, boys and girls, just plain facts. So, as they say in the good ole' US of A, 'nuff said.

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. bob in LA

    REpublicans love to say america had not been attacked since 9/11. there are two fact about this that are sad in irony.
    The first attack on the WTC was early in the Clinotn Admin and was the only aatack during his reign, So i guess his policies worked as well.
    And second- depsite no attacks here- 150% MORE Americans have died and 1000% more injured in the Iragi war thanin 9/11. And it helped throw our economy inot a turmoil.
    So which philosophiy protects America and Americans more?

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. alvino

    Greg forgot about 9-11 and the anthrax letters during Bush's presidency.

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Michael Johnson

    Is that why Cheney has not been charged with breaking laws because he's a fake Statesman!!

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Chris April 5th, 2009 11:05 am ET

    These comments are pathetic. Cheney was a great VP. For some reason experience doesn't matter to you people. Obama is the David Dinkins of the White House.

    And Cheney was Larry, Moe, and Curly all wrapped in one of the White House.

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. J Christen

    Dick Cheney is an arrogant and self centered person who makes decisions based on his own personal gain often times in increasing his wealth and political position.

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Joe - NJ

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

    And 9/11 was?

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. dustbunny

    So if someone other than an obama follower has an opinon other than your's it's not relevent? Are we supposed to belive you people are the only ones that are right,and know everything. You people keep ranting "war criminal" "treason" they should be in jail. O.K. prove it. Show what law was broken. Come on show it,put some facts where your mouth is.

    April 5, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Chris

    John King's Program of "state of Division" is the state of republican party. How pathetic is his new Progam!!

    April 5, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Clay

    If Cheney is not a statesman for speaking out against Obama, then Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter aren't statesmen either since they spent 8 friggin' years bashing the Bush administration.

    April 5, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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