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. bob

    Cheney didn't accomplish anything in office aside from fearmongering the American people into believing the only way to protect ourselves is to sacrifice our individual liberties such as our right to privacy and our right to think what we want. I always assumed domestic warantless wiretapping was a North Korea thing but I stand corrected. I guess that makes me un-American for arguing with him though. If I have to choose between which big government I can live with, I'll take the lesser of two evils with socialism. Authoritarianism doesn't really strike me as an American ideal. I'll take better education over big brother any day. You have to EARN respect so I don't owe a thing to Cheney besides my frustration and animosity at the crumbling of American freedoms under his watch. I better watch out though I don't want him to shoot off my face too.

    April 5, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Vic

    How funny ... Clinton and Carter get free passes to blast Bush while he's in office, but Cheney gets pilloried. Hypocrites, you make me laugh.

    April 5, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Brad

    The only thing this country should thank Bush for is that he didn't die while Cheney was VP.

    April 5, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. JN

    For the record, Carter and Clinton became very vocal critics later in their post-presidential years, not within the first month as Cheney has done. Frankly, if I were Clinton, considering how the Repubs treated him, I would have pointed fingers much earlier at Bush's failure(s).

    I love it when Repubs get irritated at being reminded of the many failures of the Bush/Cheney administration. They drove this country to the ground and just can't admit to being wrong on MOST issues and truly are angry at not being listened to. Well, Repubs, there is a reason: You have proven you don't know what you're talking about.

    April 5, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. justin

    Axelrod better be careful when he talks about how long terrorists have been in business after 9/11. I have a feeling they will still be operating at the end of Obama's presidency....

    April 5, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. jeff from jersey

    So whoever thought Cheney was a statesman anyway?He's an evil self-serving,power-hungry idiot that thinks shooting people and blowing up 200 innocent women and children to kill 1 person that MIGHT have a gun somewhere is diplomacy and that mass-murder is the solution to every problem,especially if his buddies are literally making $BILLIONS off of the deal.

    Cheney,not Bin Laden,is the most dangerous man in the world and he should be kept in solitary confinment at Guantanamo for the rest of his life!Execution for his crimes against humanity would be too easy on him.Let him suffer alone!

    April 5, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. jb

    Cheney=most dangerous man in the world.... He'dmake a great hitler too.

    April 5, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Ed

    Axelrod the Chicago thug has a lot of room to talk! This is the sleeziest guy ever to hit the political spectrum

    April 5, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. janette

    Cheney has a right to speak his mind, but those so-called journalists who allow him the public forum to do so, had better do their jobs.

    Cheney is a snake of the first order who has yet to overcome his obvious bitterness toaward those who have cost him his subversive power.. His true nature can and should be exposed via the TV medium.. But no one has had the cujones to "get him", blindside him in an interview.
    Of course the real truth is the Cheney and his ilk have got us into a dangerous band expensive mess, he broke the law and should be in jail.. This is where I would really like to see the president do his job; as a Consitutional lawyer, he should demand we prosecute.

    April 5, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Joe

    BRAD has a great point. I love it.

    April 5, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. LA

    It's not wrong for Cheney to criticize the Obama Administration, and
    vice-versa. This is what Democracy is all about. But if Cheney had listened to former Presidents and others we wouldn't be in this debacle with Iraq. For all the people who say they feel safe must have forgot the attack on America also was to wreck the economy. How safe is your wallet? And last, N. Korea did not develop this weapon in sixty days and what was Bush and Cheney's reaction- Nothing.

    April 5, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. daunt

    I feel that more of my personal freedom has and will be restored With Bush, and Cheney gone.

    April 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Ken Leone

    Reply to anthony n's statement that "Chenney is one of the most reasoned and experienced person in this country to critique the Obama admin"

    Cheney is an arrogant fascist. His "experience" consists of years of formulating his "unitary executive" theory which he and Bush used to try to destroy our system of governmental checks and balances and justify the takeover of the government by the administration in order to establish a new 1000 year reich . He orchestrated the destruction of our international reputation through torture and renditions, generating thousands of terrorists as a side product. Now, why should we listen to him?

    April 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Flipper

    From Kim

    "if you do not support the president you are not real Americans
    if you are not with him
    you have to be for the terrorists…"

    That's a typical comment from the left. They feel that everytime their controversial opinions on international policy over the last 8 years are criticized by those that don't agree with them, they feel as if their "patriotism" was attacked. Then they go off and concoct this illusion that nearly all Republicans are attacking their patriotism (or however Libs are defining that word at the moment).

    By the way, how about all those drones on the left who accuse anyone who criticizes Obama must be a racist? Libs and other Dems have been using the "racist" attack against those that don't agree with them for decades.

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. jeff from jersey

    Hey VIC People like you make the world dark,dangerous,evil and you,like Cheney,make the rest of humanity cry.
    Carte and Clinton may have been inept,although nowhere near the failure that Bush was,but Cheney is flat-out evil!

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. IndependentfromTexas.

    Axelrod, hammer that bandicoot Cheney and his despicable comments. It is him I am no more a Republican. With Cantor and those lechers from Lousiana and S Carolina – I am DONE with republican party – a party of irrelevant bandicoots.

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. tailban bob

    Dick ?? Dick who. Why is the media even giving the chance to say anything???? He is out of office !!! WAKE UP CNN and let him grow old anlone is a war crime jail where he belongs

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Bob

    It is probably TRUE that by limiting incarcerations at Guantanomo, eliminating "forceful" interrogations ( or torture depending on your definition), and the like, we have negatively impacted our immediate security....that is regretfully the price we pay for living up to our ideals and beliefs in a democratic, law abiding, & free America.

    I guess if comes down to what you are willing to sacrifice in order to feel "secure"...

    April 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. DM

    Dick Cheney is the worst man to serve this country ever. Not only is he evil, but he is also vile. Cheney is an enemy of this country and should be treated like the traitor he is. He should be deported.

    April 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Wizard of Oz

    Why are Bush and Cheney still allowed to roam free? They both should be in prison for crimes against humanity, or, better yet, sent to the guillotine.

    April 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Joe

    rob c

    Are you one of those people who really believe that someone like myself, who works 75 hours per week, owning my own business, to maximize my wealth, for my family, should have someone come in (Obama) and basically say – thanks for your hard work, we are going to tax you more, take more of what you worked hard for, and give it to someone who does not want to work, or take risk, and have their han out – what a joke

    April 5, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. Frank

    The following is a common stataement: "During President Bush's administration we were not hit by a terrorist attack. That statistic speakes for itself."

    The logic escapes me that we ignore the 4,000 of our chilren dead buried and over 25,000 seriously wounded because it happened to them outside our borders.

    April 5, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Matt

    Cheney; Keep up the pressure. Continue to speak for those of us who appreciate your effort on our behalf to keep our country safe from terrorism.

    April 5, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. nate

    why not let him criticize? is that not allowed anymore? I mean, cheney is a slimy, evil, sightless, alien creature – but it's a problem when he gets rebuked for attempting to defend policies he put in place.

    April 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. GG63

    Obama will end up destroying this country. How dare he call Americans "arrogant" to Europe. Americans are NOT arrogant, congress is. Go ahead Obama, raise taxes when we are down and then we will take the double hit when inflation from the massive M2 increase from all this spending smashes any purchasing power we have left. Wouldn't it be nice if congress folks like Geithner and Sen Rangel would pay their taxes like we all have to on time. Do as I say , not as I do? Bottom line, It is people like everyone here posting on this board that is going to suffer, not congress. Sad, really sad.

    April 5, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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