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. JonDie

    To Joe the NYer, April 5th, 2009 11:30 am ET

    Bush's first and foremost goal was to steal us blind and destroy our Consitution and political traditions. The mess you see is 100% Bush's creation.

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. jona

    Axelrod? I REALLY want to know why ANYONE listens to what this creep has to say. ANYONE with half a brain can tell this guy is a fool. ONLY CNN would run this crap because they are so desperate to bang away at anything Bush and blindly support anything Obama. They moderate out of all discussion ANYTHING negative about Obama..

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Tom Thumb

    If it weren't for the RICH and the IGNORANT, the Republican party would not exist.

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Lance

    First, I am consistently offended by this administration's inability to maturely accept criticism. Cheney offered nothing but dialogue about an area of political disagreement. Rather than engage in discourse, Obama's reaction has been defensiveness and anger. Second, when Cheney made his comments, the White House Press response was "I guess they couldn't get Rush Limbaugh." The administration that offers such a juvenile answer has no room to complain about acting like a "statesman." I disagree with Cheney strongly, but I disagree more with an arrogant and immature administration who responds to any criticism with Ad Homenim and name calling rather than discourse. Axelrod, frankly is not acting like a statesman himself.

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. vinh

    Cheney had his days in the sun, he is irrelevant now, who cares what he thinks or does? He might make news one day when he is arrested for war crimes some where outside the US.

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Dreaggo

    Obviously we are all safe now that Mr. Axelrod has everything under control. Besides... if something did happen his boss Obama could condemn them in a public statement like he did North Korea.

    That'll show 'em! Who needs the military and CIA when we got the Mouth-in-Chief?

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. Gene

    To Phil,

    You say that during Bush's term we were not hit by a terrorist attack and that shows the administration's success at preventing attacks.

    You must have amnesia, I suggest a doctor visit.

    9-11 was acheived under Bush's presidency, please, do not assume that this attack could not have been prevented had a president not been on a summer "working" vacation in Crawford, Texas.

    April 5, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. D Holiday

    To: Philip, April 5, 2009:

    Let me Quote you real quick:

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

    Hey Dippy, maybe you should check to see which administration was in office at the time of the 911 attacks and go all the way back to see how many actually had terrorist attacks during their administration. You should really get your facts right before you start writing and talking smack. Yeah, that was the stupidest remark I've ever seen on this blog. By the way next time finish your quotation marks.

    April 5, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Ken Sawyer

    I suppose a man who sends dead fish to his enemies is a step above Cheney in self control. Cheney was in favor of sending things that go boom to our enemies who blew up our buildings and there was never a need for a rebuttal. Lets see how talking does in the next few years. We saw how it did for Clinton's 8 years on 9-11.

    April 5, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    i cant wait until cheney is arressted

    April 5, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Obama-NOPE

    Axelrod asks "why are terrorists still in business?" That's easy – they have been waiting for America to lose its' nerve, and elect a weenie. So far, their wait-it-out strategy is working for them.

    Axelrod looks like he comes right out of an old silent movie, and his naive League of Nations ideas fit his Hal Roach image.

    April 5, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. holmes

    Mr Cheney can hush up, unless he would like the spotlight on all the crimes against humanity he took part in the last 8yrs. I was willing to let us move on from the awful past until he pulled his latest move. Now I say string him up.

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Kurt

    Cheny is THE BIGGEST creap we ever saw in the White House. Good riddance.
    " , so maybe the normal etiquette rules should not apply."

    Of course, why would Republicans not follow the rules, etguette, THE LAW. James, whose watch did 9/11 fall on? I guess it was Clinton's fault. Idiot...

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. rob c

    Cheney and bush are right where they shoulda been 8 years ago, at home. They never listened to their bosses (the people). Cheney even answered a question about what the people thought about the Iraq war with a very stern SO. Why should we care what he thinks when he doesn't care what we think, or even listen to what we think. That administration completely disregarded the American public and proclaimed themselves the deciders. Don't criticize when our president is doing things for America as a whole, not just for the wealthy to stay wealthy or for the benefit of the corporations they will return to after their terms are up.
    I for one love the fact that Prez Obama is paying attention to domestic issues that bush/cheney ignored for 8 years to put us in this situation along with all the crying republicans who went along with it (also the dems that followed). Stop all the crying and spoiled child behavior and offer up ideas that will help to make the country stronger, not just the same old disproven rhetoric that led to this mess.
    PS: the markets are up for the first time in almost a year. Go Prez Obama! Apparently something is being done that is right, maybe that's why we see all the extreme criticism of your administration.

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. LibertyQueen

    Dick Cheney is a Domestic Terrorist and Traitor and orchestrated the terrorist acts of 9/11, including authorizing the installation and setting off of explosives at the Twin Towers and Building 7, authorizing the flying of dummy remote-controlled aircraft into the Twin Towers, the firing of a missle into the Pentagon...no evidence of a commercial airline there...and the incident outside Philidelpia where no evidence of Flight 93 was found. You've been duped people! Wake up!

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Chery

    Then Obama is the antithesis of a statesman – he has ripped Bush as every turn. Toned it down a bit since he has taken office and realized it is not as easy to 'arm chair quarterback" as it is to truly coach the game and win. But he still side swipes him at every oportune time and also makes negative and derogatory remarks about our country. You can change things without criticizing and condeming them. Personally, I don't want someone on my side who things we are the problem. We have and always will be a major part of the soltuion to every problem. Sure we aren't perfect, but in pointing out our weaknesses, it doesn't gain us any credibility or respect – components essential to being a leader.

    I respect the positive approach – but obviously the majority of our country thrives on the negativity that he disguises as "change".

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. hubman

    If there is a scintilla of justice in this world, Dick Cheney will go on trial for treason. He and his moron henchman boosh, are responsible for the sinking of the US of A to its lowest depths since slavery.

    Despissed and corrupt, Cheney lives in a separate world of billionaires and plutocrats, whose lap dog he has become. He and boosh passed our billions of borrowed money to their friends in the form of obscen tax cuts IN A TIME OF WAR, if this isn't treason, nothing is

    April 5, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. The Broker.

    You are also another (????). You speak for the oppostion. Why say anything. We all know what your thinking. So why say it; after the fact?

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. jb

    I would discredit anything Dick Cheney would say about anything at all. The man is a maniac !!

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. mike

    bush and cheney are Y the country is in such bad shape.. i dont understand how you idiots cannot see that

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. steve

    Will Cheney and Axelrod stop Bloomberg and the MTA from increasing fares !?

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Matt

    So this is what we have come to in American political discourse...you have to be either a war-mongering, flag-wrapped, chest-beating Fascist/Republican or a bleeding-heart, tax-happy, save-the-whales-and-gays Communist/Democrat, and people in the middle (80-90 percent of the country) are irrelevant because they don't yell loud enough or angrily enough. THAT, and not Obama's or Bush's policies, is what should scare people the most.

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Scab laborer in the south

    Cheney is our hero.

    April 5, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Charles Williams

    Republicans cheered for years while this country's economic system was being dismantled. Now the Democrats have to fix the mess and do we hear "thank you" or "I'm sorry"? I'm still waiting.

    Republicans had their turn protecting the country from terrorists. Are they so bizarrely conceited to believe in their heart of hearts that no one but Republicans can sit in charge of this country's defense?

    I for one am sorry for the excesses of liberalism where it failed to protect this great country in the past. Can we hear something from you guys?

    As I recall, Republicans went on endlessly about how we have to rally around the President in times of war. How about it people?

    Charles Williams

    April 5, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. brian

    I do not understand why anybody would give cheney or bush the time of day anymore, these guys and reagan and clinton all helped to run this country into the ground!

    April 5, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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