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. ken

    Even though we should not have gone into Iraq, let's give Bush and Cheney some credit for making the surge work and protecting the U.S. from a second strike. Going into Pakistan and Afganistan with our soldiers is not a nice thought but good to see the new Pres realizes reality. The enemy is not nice so hopefully we don't let our guard down for a second. Let Cheney keep all on their toes. He certainly got criticized a lot by them!

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Steve Janigian

    Maybe someone should let the Dick know we're not listening anymore, you dribbling idiot!

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Ames Tiedeman, Austin, Texas

    The Obama Fascists are at work. They come up with name calling and other vile insults if anyone dare question their policies. They can dish it out but boy can they not take it! Just appalling.

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Lefty

    Cheney's great plan was to have the house of cards that was our great financial system,fall after Obama took office.The economic
    ruin,also took place on Cheney's watch.

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. outlander

    Obviously you don't understand how the government works. With a complete control over the house and senate, the democrats are driving this country into the ground. They ruined the USA with their control while Bush was in office, and now Obama has finally gotten her onto her knees! Pelosi, Dodd, Frank, Geitner, ad nauseum....have all brought her down. Wake up you fools! Instead of raising the other countries up, they are taking this beautiful land down to their levels....you want to be like Cuba? Russia? go there and see what it's like. You won't like it one little bit. but get used to it, as it's coming here.....fools.

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Carla

    The interview with VP Cheney took place last month/Since Mr. Axelrod mentioned that we are still at risk after all the steps taken why not go back to the orignal WTC bombing and ask why a 2nd one was even possible no matter who you might choose to blame 9/11 on. To me this is a smoke screen/why not discuss what was accomplished at the trip abroad this week/as far as I can see there is a lot of style going on over there but no real substance. I am probably one of the few here who do not mind if Europeans do not love us(the dislike for this country goes back far further than the last 8 years) I lived on a small island in between Greece and Turkey in '74 where a small coup was undertaken by the Turkish govenrment and at that time the American Ambassador at the Embassy was killed so we have not been well thought of in that region for quite some time

    April 5, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Larry

    President Cheney deserves the highest level of respect for what he accomplished while in office! No one can argue this.

    April 5, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. hunter


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

    Really? Despite warnings from the Clinton Administration during the transition, and a briefing in early August in Crawford, Texas, while he was taking some of his 445 days of vacation, we got hit.

    Remember that? It's called 9-11

    April 5, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Joe

    David Axelrod is delusional. Actually, he's a teamist like most Americans. No one is every will to say a discouraging word about their "side." You don't have to like all of Bush's policies but one thing is undeniable we had ZERO attacks post-911. NK just launched a nuke-capable rocket and Obama "condemned" it. Someone needs to remind Obama his words only work on gullible 20-somethings and Marxist idealists. You can "talk" a rocket down. Couple all this with Al Quaeda promising another attack on the U.S. and we could be seeing a ramp-up in terrorist attacks against us. The question then will be will anyone who voted for Obama have the stones to admit his policies failed? No. They continue to cheer that their "team" scores in the next quarter.

    April 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. stingray

    I think Cheney is calling it the way it is, one has to understand the world we live in and complexity of the rogue nations and established nations that want to see us fail. The current Adminstration needs to quit selling the story if we give them money or tell them were sorry for being Americans they will leave us alone, why should we lower our standards to make the rest of the world happy!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. shelby

    That's rich coming from the Dem Cheney counterpart.. It takes one to know one, I guess.

    April 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Philip

    TO: Greg April 5th, 2009 11:14 am ET

    "During President Bush's administration we were not hit by a terrorist attack. That statistic speakes for itself. Time will tell if the Obama administration is up to the task. I think they are just alot of talk and no substance. It is also obvious that Obama is ashamed to be an American as proven by his shameless pandering to the EU. He should just renounce his US citenzship, move to France, and run for office there. Obama and the democrats are the worse thing to happen to the US in decades!!!!!!!! I weep for our nation's future."

    –Wow...yea...9/11 obviously happened when someone else was president....Please do us a favor and do not comment anywhere else.

    April 5, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. gail

    John King the moron!!! I thought his program is a professional journalism till I figured is Bush/Cheney coverup!!

    April 5, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Ken Sawyer

    Cheney should have been president. Have you noticed how countries are now throwing their weight around since we have a less arrogant leadership? Old Osama bin Laden probably comes out of his cave now once in a while to see daylight for the first time in 8 years. Might can let some air in the place again.

    April 5, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Patsy Madison, TN

    The Clinton/Gore administration informed the Bush/Cheney about an upcoming attach on the US, but they did not take it seriously. Other agencies told the Bush/Cheney the same thing, but they chose to look the other way. They were warned but took no action. VP Gore did research and made a report that airplanes were going to be used as weapons,but Cheney would not listen. Only the Bush Administration can be blamed for 9-11 and the Iraq war. The buck stops with them.

    April 5, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Tayo

    If some people are afraid of america turning to socialism or being a third world country,then simply put they are living in a vegetative state.Its not possible to achieve that overnight.I think i understand properly now when folks say GOP uses fear and intimidation to influence peoples opinion,just as they did before.8 years is to short for obama to turn US around,you've got democracy for 200+years,and all it takes is 8yr,STOP the Noise,fearmongering.because its not possible

    April 5, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. John - Toronto

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

    So, if not Bush, who was President on September 11, 2001?

    April 5, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. alvino


    The Bush/Cheney policies did in fact fail, and someone has to clean up their mess.

    April 5, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Ken Sawyer

    I will bet CNN ratings will go up this week. I saw a few right wing comments let into the mix. good show.

    April 5, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. steve

    I think Cheney is acting more like Mr. Potter from "Its A Wonderful Life" than a statesman.

    April 5, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. D Holiday

    The World Trade Centers tumbled on whose watch...during what administration?

    That's what I thought. You had 9 months to do something about it and did absolutely nothing. By the way, why were we in Iraq again?

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Mike

    You Know, history is constantly rewritten. As I do think that the Bush administration totally messed up our standing in the world and mismanaged Iraq, I think he was trying to defend America as his job description implies. I still cannot fathom why in the world he did things the way he did. I also do not see Obama chasing Bush or trying to bring him to court or in front of Congress. Believe me! There are many things that we are not being told! Public opinion turns on a dime. Wait until we get hit again. (hopefully not) I believe it will happen though. If we get hit again public opinion will change. It won't matter what anybody thinks then. The outrage of another hit on American soil will lock in the public's will, never to be hit again.

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. eric

    Carter was bashing Bush policy for years. BHO is seeing what its like now! Get some thick skin, cry babies!

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. James in Columbus

    Come on people, you can't honestly think that we appear as tough on terror as we had before. We can't call it " war on terror" anymore. We don't call it "terrorism" - it's "man made disater" now. The Obama administration appears WEAK, WEAK, WEAK. Cheney is exactly right, it's just whether a former VP should speak out so soon. But, we are talking about saving American lives, so maybe the normal etiquette rules should not apply.

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. ATM

    these comments are coming from a person that was not and never was a president of the united states and as much as I hate the bush administration of what they did bush is a statesman and dick is like his firstname states 🙂

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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